, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 13–21 | Cite as

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) learn to act with other individuals in a cooperative task

Original Article


We presented two chimpanzees with a task in which they were required to pull each end of a rope simultaneously to drag blocks supporting food into reach. The chimpanzees did not succeed in initial tests. They did not immediately understand the necessity for cooperation, and they did not adjust their behavior to work with the partner. However, the frequency of success gradually increased as the number of sessions increased and the task was varied. They began to look at the partner frequently, wait if the partner was not holding the rope, and pull the rope in synchrony with the partner. However, they did not use interactive behaviors or eye contact to synchronize their behavior. One chimpanzee was then paired with a human partner in the same situation. After initial failures, the chimpanzee began to solicit the human partner for cooperation: looking up at his face, vocalizing, and taking the partner’s hand. When this chimpanzee was again paired with the chimpanzee partner, no soliciting behavior was observed. Thus, the chimpanzees could learn to coordinate their behavior through trial and error. Communicative behavior emerged during the task, but the communication differed according to the identity of the partner.


Chimpanzee Cooperation Solicitation 



This study was financially supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (grant 1870266 to S. Hirata), the Sasagawa Scientific Research Grant from the Japan Science Society (grant 16–308 to S. Hirata), and the Core-to-Core Program HOPE by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. We thank S. Sekine, K. Sugama, and K. Kusunoki for assistance with data collection, and N. Morimura and G. Idani for support and suggestions. Thanks are also due to N. Sato, F. Kawashima, and T. Nanba for support in conducting the experiment and for caring for the chimpanzees. The chimpanzees were cared for according to the “Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals” of Hayashibara Biochemical Laboratories, Inc., and the guidelines laid down by the Primate Society of Japan.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Great Ape Research InstituteHayashibara Biochemical Laboratories, Inc.OkayamaJapan

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