Helpful chimpanzees

Leipzig researchers could prove that Altruism is not purely human virtue

Helpfulness towards strangers is considered typical human property. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, however, could prove that young chimpanzees do not just ame styles, but also people. The scientists conclude that the common ancestors of man and chimpanze had already developed a degree of altruism.

In further studies, Leipzig researchers were able to show that chimpanzes decide not only freely, depending on the situation, whether and when they bring together species to help, but also that they prefer experts. Accordingly, Schimpansen realize which conspiration is particularly sent to this or that occasion and then bring the most promising candidates to help in an emergency. The results of the two studies are presented in the current ie of the Science Magazine Science. They are therefore interesting because they give an indication of which properties inherited in humans and which have been culturally acquired.

Helpful chimpanzees

Chimpanzees are very cleverly sent in terms of teamwork. You recognize when cooperation is necessary and which partner is best suited.

In a first series of experiments, 24 children were tested at the age of 18 months and three young chimpanzes (one at the age of 36 months, two at the age of 54 months). Before her eyes, an adult was mimious with simple tasks: Bucher stack or come to difficult to reach objects. Both children’s children as well as chimpanzen children were quickly on the spot, but they were not equally successful. Thus, chimpanzees were very cleverly sent when it was about to summon an object, with other tasks, however, they were less clever or not very helpful. Maybe – so the amption of the researchers – because they were not quite clear what the other tasks existed the real problem.

In her study, the authors Felix Warneken and Michael Tomasello refer to helping a very complex matter. So the help of help has to make an idea of what the goal of the help of help. In addition, he must be ready to be unethinking behavior, which is not self-resistant to foreigners. The seemingly innate helpfulness of the chimpanzees gives an indication that certain forms of altruism were already available at the ancestors of man and chimpanze. Experimental studies especially on this aspect has not been performed so far.

That small children already show helpfulness is known from numerous studies. However, only emotional aspects have been examined so far. For example, children are already at the age of about 15 months, others try to get. However, practical assistance were not studied, so the willingness to go to someone at hand, which seems to be able to handle alone.

In the study by Warneken and Tomasello, 24 children were confronted at the age of 18 months (ie before the more account of children, respectively, respectively, they are now initially posted) with ten different situations in which the manual experimental manager obviously needed help. The ten situations fell into one of four categories: objects that are difficult to achieve; Obstacles; Reaching a wrong goal and use of the wrong object. For any problem situation, there was a corresponding unproblematic situation for control purposes, in which the adults escaped without strangers.

There were three phases in the problem situations. First of all, the experimental manager looked at the object (1. until 10. Second), then he looked alternately to the object and child (11. until 20. Second), then he looked for a short problem, for example "My pen!" said when the pen had dropped down (21. to 30. Second). In the unprocessed control situations, he simply looked at the appropriate object with uninvolved facial expression for 20 seconds. The children were neither rewarded nor praised during the entire series of experiments. With the chimpanzee was similarly done, but they were put by people to the test that they were already known.

When it comes to the counterfeiting of counter, both children as well as chimpanzees were immediately on the spot, whereby the human children react much faster (after about 5.2 seconds in contrast to 12.9 seconds in the chimpanzes, whose attention was smaller ) And the respective object also very much tailored than the young chimpanzees. Almost all children hurry up, even before the attempt of attempts took eye contact, let alone said something. However, the children were far less cooperative if the attempt conductor intentionally falls aqueous or in a box hidden. Even in the control situations, the children reacted behavior. In other words, only if the experimenter obviously had a problem, he got spontaneous help.

Helpful chimpanzees

In another study, the anthropologists examined Alicia P. Melis, Brian Hare and Michael Tomasello, how effectively chimpanzees support each other. For this purpose, they placed food on a board, which was located outside the chimpanzengeheg and could only be used with the help of two knits to the lattice. The chimpans had to pull on both knites at the same time, otherwise the food fell down. Depending on the knit-length, distance and long ratio of the knites to each other, the task would love to loose only for two, sometimes alone. If the chimpanzees came to the food even without the help of conspecifics, they usually renounced help.

For the joint task only together, the chimpanzees seemed two different partners one after the other, and depending on how cleverly these were presented, the following occasion was brought up at the next occasion of the faithful partners (the chimpanzees could open the respective tur with the help of a key). Since both chimpanzees and people are able to distinguish between more or less helpful partners, the researchers also ame that it is a crime that already awarded the joint ancestor of man and chimpanze.

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