The nature of prosociality in chimpanzees

Claudio Tennie, Keith Jensen*, Josep Call

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
174 Downloads (Pure)


An important debate centres around the nature of prosociality in nonhuman primates. Chimpanzees help other individuals in some experimental settings, yet they do not readily share food. One solution to this paradox is that they are motivated to help others provided there are no competing interests. However, benefits to recipients could arise as by-products of testing. Here we report two studies that separate by-product from intended helping in chimpanzees using a GO/NO-GO paradigm. Actors in one group could help a recipient by releasing a food box, but the same action for another group prevented a recipient from being able to get food. We find no evidence for helping - chimpanzees engaged in the test regardless of the effects on their partners. Illusory prosocial behaviour could arise as a by-product of task design.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13915
JournalNature Communications
Early online date20 Dec 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Dec 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'The nature of prosociality in chimpanzees'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this