An Evolutionary Perspective on Primate Social Cognition

  • Francesca De PetrilloEmail author
  • Fabio Di VincenzoEmail author
  • Laura D. Di Paolo
Part of the Interdisciplinary Evolution Research book series (IDER)


The Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis and the social brain hypothesis have revolutionized traditional views on how primate cognition can be studied. Beyond the study of individual problem-solving capacities of various primates, these hypotheses have demonstrated the close relationship between the complexity of primate social life and the emergence of more sophisticated cognitive skills. The social brain hypothesis demonstrated the existence of a close correlation between the volume of the neocortex and the number of individuals in primate social groups. The amount of studies in this area have increased dramatically and have successfully enhanced our understanding of the evolutionary roots of complex social phenomena, including theory of mind, cultural transmission, social learning, and shared attention. The cognitive capacities present in primates also underlie the evolution of cognitive capacities in humans. This chapter introduces present avenues taken in research on primate social cognition, and it walks the reader through the chapters of this volume.


Primates Cognition Sociality Evolution Behavior Homo 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental BiologySapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  3. 3.Italian Institute of Human Paleontology (IsIPU)RomeItaly
  4. 4.Lichtenberg-Kolleg Institute of Advanced StudyGeorge-August University of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  5. 5.DPZ, Deutsche PrimatenzentrumLeibniz Institute for Primate ResearchGöttingenGermany

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