Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Primates expect others to act rationally

10.09.2007
When trying to understand someone's intentions, non-human primates expect others to act rationally by performing the most appropriate action allowed by the environment, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard University.

The findings appear in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal of Science. The work was led by Justin Wood, a graduate student in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, with David Glynn, a research assistant, and Marc Hauser, professor of psychology at Harvard, along with Brenda Phillips of Boston University.

“A dominant view has been that non-human primates attend only to what actions 'look like' when trying to understand what others are thinking," says Wood. "In contrast, our research shows that non-human primates infer others' intentions in a much more sophisticated way. They expect other individuals to perform the most rational action that they can, given the environmental obstacles that they face."

The scientists studied the behavioral response of over 120 primates, including cotton-top tamarins, rhesus macaques and chimpanzees. These species represent each of the three major groups of primates: New World monkeys, Old World monkeys and apes. All three species were tested in the same way, and the results showed the same responses among the different types.

... more about:
»ACT »RATIONAL »expect »species

In the first experiment, the primates were presented with two potential food containers, and the experimenter either purposefully grasped one of the containers, or flopped their hand onto one of the containers in an accidental manner. For all three species, the primates sought the food container that was purposefully grasped a greater number of times than the container upon which the hand was flopped. This indicates that the primate inferred goal-oriented action on the part of the experimenter when he grasped the container, and was able to understand the difference between the goal-oriented and accidental behavior.

In the second experiment, the researchers asked if the primates infer others' goals under the expectation that other individuals will perform the most rational action allowed by the environmental obstacles. Again, the primates were presented with two potential food containers. In one scenario, an experimenter touched a container with his elbow when his hands were full, and in another scenario, touched a container with his elbow when his hands were empty. The primates looked for the food in the container indicated with the elbow more often when the experimenter's hands were full. The primates considered, just as a human being would, that if someone's hands are full then it is rational for them to use their elbow to indicate the container with food, whereas if their hands are empty it is not rational for them to use their elbow, because they could have used their unoccupied hand.

Developmental psychologists have long understood that young children are able to engage in this type of rational action perception, but scientists have not understood if this ability is unique to human beings, or shared with other animals. This study suggests that this ability evolved as long as 40 million years ago, with non-human primates.

“This study represents one of the broadest comparative studies of primate cognition, and the significance of the findings is reinforced by the fact that these results were consistent across three different species of primates,” says Wood. “The results have significant implications for understanding the evolution of the processes that allow us to make sense of other people's behavior.”

Amy Lavoie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.harvard.edu

Further reports about: ACT RATIONAL expect species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Complementing conventional antibiotics
24.05.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Could a particle accelerator using laser-driven implosion become a reality?

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour

24.05.2018 | Health and Medicine

Complementing conventional antibiotics

24.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>