Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Primate Mind

The Primate Mind: built to connect with other minds

Frans B. M. de Waal
Pier Francesco Ferrari
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 416
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Primate Mind
    Book Description:

    Prominent neuroscientists, psychologists, ethologists, and primatologists from around the world take a bottom-up approach to primate social behavior by investigating how the primate mind connects with other minds and exploring the shared neurological basis for imitation, joint action, and empathy as well as their evolutionary foundations.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06291-7
    Subjects: Psychology, Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Frans B. M. de Waal and Pier Francesco Ferrari
  4. CHAPTER ONE A Bottom-Up Approach to the Primate Mind
    (pp. 1-10)
    Frans B. M. de Waal and Pier Francesco Ferrari

    The study of animal cognition traditionally focused on basic processes, such as classical conditioning, orientation, memory, imprinting, and the like, that applied to a wide range of species. Over the years, however, emphasis has shifted to a top-down view in which human accomplishments were placed at the top and the challenge was to find animals that could approach these. Not all scientists pursued this agenda, but it did come to dominate primate cognition studies, which as a result began to favor mentalistic cognitive accounts. We would take language, for example, to see how far apes could go with it. When...

  5. SECTION ONE From Understanding of the Actions of Others to Culture

    • CHAPTER TWO The Mirror Neuron System in Monkeys and Its Implications for Social Cognitive Functions
      (pp. 13-31)
      Pier Francesco Ferrari and Leonardo Fogassi

      One of the most extraordinary features that distinguishes primate species from other mammals is their social complexity. Other taxa have indeed evolved complex societies, but in monkeys and apes we can observe distinctive evolutionary solutions that have shaped their bodies and brains in relation to the social environment. Gestural communication, imitation, empathy, perspective taking, understanding others’ intentions, and making coalitions and alliances are part of a range of cognitive abilities that have probably evolved within a social domain and that in recent years have been the target of several investigations and hot debates. Our understanding of the basic neural mechanisms...

    • CHAPTER THREE The Human Mirror Neuron System and Its Role in Imitation and Empathy
      (pp. 32-47)
      Marco Iacoboni

      Imitation and empathy are two building blocks of human social behavior. Through imitation, we learn from others, we create cultures, and we establish a basic form of bodily rapport that increases liking (Dijksterhuis 2005) and facilitates empathy (Chartrand and Bargh 1999). With empathy, we get attuned to the mental states, feelings, and emotions of other people, a prerequisite of prosocial behavior.

      Many authors, over the centuries, have provided vivid descriptions of the relationship between imitation and empathy. Michel de Montaigne (1575), for instance, writes:

      Everyone feels its impact, but some are knocked over by it. On me it makes such...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Social Rules and Body Scheme
      (pp. 48-64)
      Naotaka Fujii and Atsushi Iriki

      Humans are the paragon of social animals (Adolphs 1999, 2003; Beer et al. 2006). The complexity of our social systems beggars that of any other species on earth. There are several neurocognitive reasons for this, one of which is our ability to follow rules that constrain and channel our behavior. Of course, while rule following is necessary, it is not sufficient; after all, ant colonies and beehives also have complex societies that emerge from the rule-governed behavior of their members, yet they are not nearly as complex as we are. Human social systems are complex not just because we follow...

    • CHAPTER FIVE What, Whom, and How: Selectivity in Social Learning
      (pp. 65-80)
      Ludwig Huber

      In this chapter I will discuss social learning phenomena from the point of view of selectivity. The common picture emerging from the many studies conducted with human and nonhuman animals on their ability to learn from others shows that observers are selective in many respects. They are not copy machines that blindly copy what they see, but rather, they reproduce only specific parts of the demonstration. Call and Carpenter (2002) presented a framework for investigating social learning based on the different types of information that observers are able to extract from models. The main idea behind their multidimensional framework is...

    • CHAPTER SIX Learning How to Forage: Socially Biased Individual Learning and “Niche Construction” in Wild Capuchin Monkeys
      (pp. 81-98)
      Elisabetta Visalberghi and Dorothy Fragaszy

      This chapter aims to provide a way to think about how naïve monkeys become proficient foragers. In general, young primates (at the time of weaning and for some period thereafter) are less effective foragers than adults of their species. Primates have complex diets, live highly social lives, and spend months to years as juveniles. These characteristics, taken together, suggest that social partners may influence how young monkeys learn about food and feeding. Much research has addressed psychological processes occurring in the short term and within the learner that allow an individual to match another’s behavior (such as imitation, emulation, or...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Social Learning and Culture in Child and Chimpanzee
      (pp. 99-118)
      Lydia M. Hopper, Sarah Marshall-Pescini and Andrew Whiten

      More than three decades of primate research have accumulated since Nick Humphrey galvanized the study of primate societies with his “social intellect hypothesis” (Humphrey 1976). The essence of Humphrey’s idea was that the distinctive complexities of primates’ social lives have been responsible for shaping their intelligence more than have the physical problems they face. This idea resonated and interacted with other developments in the field, perhaps most influentially Griffin’s efforts to make the study of animal mind a reputable and worthy enterprise (1976) and de Waal’s discoveries about “Chimpanzee Politics” (1982), a subject to which repeated quotations from the architect...

  6. SECTION TWO Empathy, Perspective Taking, and Cooperation

    • CHAPTER EIGHT A Bottom-Up View of Empathy
      (pp. 121-138)
      Frans B. M. de Waal

      Dictionaries typically define “empathy” as the ability to share and understand someone else’s feelings and situation. In the scientific literature, however, a more mentalistic definition, closer to theory of mind, has become popular. Accordingly, empathy is a way of gaining access to another’s mind by pretending to enter that individual’s “shoes.” For example, Goldman (2006) sees empathy as a combination of simulation and projection: inside its own head, the subject simulates how it would feel being in the other’s situation and proceeds to assign mental states of its own to the other. Similarly, Baron-Cohen (2005, 170) describes empathy as involving...

    • CHAPTER NINE What Does the Primate Mind Know about Other Minds? A Review of Primates’ Understanding of Visual Attention
      (pp. 139-157)
      April M. Ruiz and Laurie R. Santos

      Despite wide-ranging differences in group size, social structure, and mating systems, all primates are inherently social creatures. Primates grow up in a world full of conspecifics, a perceptual environment filled with many complicated social interactions. In addition to being competitors for resources, group mates can also serve as models, sentinels, informants, mating partners, and playmates. In order to survive in this socially pressured world, individual primates must quickly learn to make sense of the actions of others and exploit them for their own ends.

      One of the most important cues provided by conspecifics comes from where individual group members happen...

    • CHAPTER TEN Human Empathy through the Lens of Psychology and Social Neuroscience
      (pp. 158-174)
      Tania Singer and Grit Hein

      There is a long tradition of research and writing on human empathy and emotions, crossing the disciplinary boundaries between philosophy, social psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience. Part of this tradition has always been the question concerning whether empathy and emotions are uniquely human, or whether they are also part of the reality of nonhuman species (Darwin, Ekman, and Prodger 2002). Starting in the 1970s, empirical approaches were developed that allowed researchers to investigate emotions in animals, in particular their ability to empathize with a conspecific. The goal of this chapter is to give a concise overview of the most prominent approaches...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN How Much of Our Cooperative Behavior Is Human?
      (pp. 175-193)
      Brian Hare and Jingzhi Tan

      Whether it is our technological, cultural, institutional, or linguistic capabilities, almost every behavior that we might call “human” is ultimately a product of cooperation. Characterizing human cooperation and explaining its evolution will be central to explaining the evolution of our species. One of the tools we have available for testing hypotheses regarding human cooperation is the comparison of cooperative abilities among hominoids. Humans share a common ancestor with the Panins (bonobos and chimpanzees) some 5–7 million years ago. In comparing our own species with bonobos and chimpanzees we can identify traits we share and those that arose as derived...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Fetal Testosterone in Mind: Human Sex Differences and Autism
      (pp. 194-208)
      Bonnie Auyeung and Simon Baron-Cohen

      Autism, high-functioning autism, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified; PDD/NOS) are thought to lie on the same continuum and can be referred to as autism spectrum conditions (ASC). These conditions are characterized by impairments in reciprocal social interaction, as well as verbal and nonverbal communication, alongside strongly repetitive behaviors and unusually narrow interests (APA 1994). Recent epidemiological studies have shown that as many as 1 percent of people could have an ASC (Baird et al. 2006). The incidence of ASC is strongly biased toward males, with a male:female ratio of 4:1 for classic autism (Chakrabarti and Fombonne...

  7. SECTION THREE Memory, Emotions, and Communication

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN The Role of Broca’s Area in Socio-Communicative Processes of Chimpanzees
      (pp. 211-223)
      William D. Hopkins and Jared P. Tagliatela

      One of the most basic and fundamental milestones in human language development is the occurrence of pointing in a social context (Bates et al. 1979; Bates et al. 1975). Beginning around 12–15 months of age, developing preverbal human children begin to point to objects in their environment in the presence of another social agent. In addition to pointing to objects within a social context, children at this age will also alternate their gaze between the referent and the social agent. This alternating in gaze is thought to refl ect the child’s understanding that the signaling is intentional and thus...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Emotional Engagement: How Chimpanzee Minds Develop
      (pp. 224-245)
      Kim A. Bard

      Comparative developmental psychology is a perspective with which we can view the similarities and differences in developmental processes that occur across primate species. My developmental area of specialty is infancy, and I find topics involving emotion particularly interesting. As a developmental psychologist, I ask questions about how the emotional system of chimpanzees develops, and in particular I am interested in how developmental outcomes change as a function of social-cultural environments (e.g., Bard 2005). Comparative psychologists are interested in similarities and differences across species in order to address questions of species-unique characteristics or characteristics shared by species based on evolutionary history....

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Distress Alleviation in Monkeys and Apes: A Window into the Primate Mind?
      (pp. 246-264)
      Filippo Aureli and Orlaith N. Fraser

      A large body of research has dealt with stress and its negative consequences. Much less is known about how animals deal with its alleviation. Stress is a multifaceted phenomenon, and various terms have been used to capture the various aspects. Although the terminology has overall been useful, it has also created some confusion. For example, one of the definitions of stress in the Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary (1989) is “physical, mental or emotional strain or tension,” whereas distress is defined as “great pain, anxiety or sorrow,” and anxiety as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by apprehension of danger or...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN Enquiries Concerning Chimpanzee Understanding
      (pp. 265-287)
      Charles R. Menzel and Emil W. Menzel Jr.

      Asked what he had learned about the mind of God from a study of nature, biologist J. B. S. Haldane is reported to have replied that God must have “an inordinate fondness for beetles.” By the same token, our own studies of human and animal behavior have taught us at least one thing about the collective minds of our colleagues: they have an inordinate fondness for neologisms, for they continue to create more and more of them, ad infinitum. We have consulted the ghost of Emil W. Menzel Sr., who was an avid amateur naturalist and linguist as well as...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN What Is Uniquely Human? A View from Comparative Cognitive Development in Humans and Chimpanzees
      (pp. 288-306)
      Tetsuro Matsuzawa

      There are four genera in the family Hominidae. I have been studying the chimpanzee mind since 1978. The “Ai project,” now in its fourth decade (Matsuzawa 2003), focuses on a female chimpanzee named Ai, her son Ayumu, and other members of a community of chimpanzees living at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University (KUPRI; Matsuzawa 2001; Matsuzawa et al. 2006). The project is complemented by parallel research efforts in the wild: a long-running study of wild chimpanzees at Bossou, Republic of Guinea, West Africa (Matsuzawa et al. 2011).

      It is not well recognized that brain volume triples between birth...

  8. References
    (pp. 307-378)
  9. Contributors
    (pp. 379-380)
  10. Index
    (pp. 381-392)