2008, pp 99-119

Cooperation in Keas: Social and Cognitive Factors

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Abstract

For many decades, researchers have tried to get a glimpse into the “folk physies” of animals, that is, their common sense understanding of how the world works, as well as why it works in the way it does (e.g., Köhler 1927). It has been suggested that animals use a variety of cognitive strategies in understanding such things as space, tools, object categories, quantities, and perhaps causality. Significantly later, this focus of research has been complemented with studies on “folk psychology”, that is, what animals understand about the behavior and perhaps mental lives of conspecifics in interactions involving cooperation, competition, communication, and social learning (e.g., Premack and Woodruff 1978). However, in both fields of research, we are far from a common agreement of what animals really understand when they are engaged in adapting or modifying their environment, in their physical or social form, for their own sake. While some researchers believe that many large-brained animals develop an increasing ability to understand causal relationships on accumulating experience (Fujita, this volume; Hauser 2000; Rumbaugh et al. 2000), others warn to over-interpret the animal’s apprehension of cause-effect relations underlying the mainpulation of animate or inanimate objects (Heyes 1998; Povinelli 2000; Tomasello and Call 1997; Visalberghi and Tomasello 1998).