Animal Cognition

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 611–623 | Cite as

Do chimpanzees learn reputation by observation? Evidence from direct and indirect experience with generous and selfish strangers

  • Francys Subiaul
  • Jennifer Vonk
  • Sanae Okamoto-Barth
  • Jochen Barth
Original Paper

Abstract

Can chimpanzees learn the reputation of strangers indirectly by observation? Or are such stable behavioral attributions made exclusively by first-person interactions? To address this question, we let seven chimpanzees observe unfamiliar humans either consistently give (generous donor) or refuse to give (selfish donor) food to a familiar human recipient (Experiments 1 and 2) and a conspecific (Experiment 3). While chimpanzees did not initially prefer to beg for food from the generous donor (Experiment 1), after continued opportunities to observe the same behavioral exchanges, four chimpanzees developed a preference for gesturing to the generous donor (Experiment 2), and transferred this preference to novel unfamiliar donor pairs, significantly preferring to beg from the novel generous donors on the first opportunity to do so. In Experiment 3, four chimpanzees observed novel selfish and generous acts directed toward other chimpanzees by human experimenters. During the first half of testing, three chimpanzees exhibited a preference for the novel generous donor on the first trial. These results demonstrate that chimpanzees can infer the reputation of strangers by eavesdropping on third-party interactions.

Keywords

Reputation Social learning Eavesdropping Third-party interactions Chimpanzees 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francys Subiaul
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jennifer Vonk
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sanae Okamoto-Barth
    • 2
    • 4
  • Jochen Barth
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Mind, Brain and Evolution ClusterThe George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of Louisiana, Cognitive Evolution GroupNew IberiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern Mississippi Gulf CoastLong BeachUSA
  4. 4.Department of Cognitive NeuroscienceMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtNetherlands

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