Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Role-Reversal Experiment

  • Julia Watzek
  • Sarah F. Brosnan
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1497-1


The role-reversal experiment is a social cognition paradigm in which two animals first work together on a cooperation task requiring complimentary roles and then switch roles to test the degree to which they take the perspective of their partner.


Cooperation, a widespread phenomenon across animal species, ranges from simple actions that incidentally benefit another to complex behavior coordinated in time and space. One of the most complex forms of cooperation involves complementary roles, in which animals perform different actions that contribute to achieving a joint goal. Such complementary roles have been observed in the wild, particularly in the context of group hunting, in such distantly related species as chimpanzees, lions, and hawks (Dugatkin 1997), and have recently been shown even between species of fish (Vail et al. 2013). However, it is unclear whether individuals performing one role learn about the complementary role of their partner by working with...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Language Research CenterGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuroscience InstituteGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Dawson Clary
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ManitobaWinnipegCanada