Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Great apes might be misunderstood

Date:
November 1, 2010
Source:
University of Portsmouth
Summary:
Great apes might be much more similar to us – and just as smart – than science has led us to believe. A new study will examine the extent to which common designs of comparative psychology research, which rates humans as more advanced than apes, are fatally flawed.

Great apes might be much more similar to us -- and just as smart -- than science has led us to believe.

Related Articles


A new study will examine the extent to which common designs of comparative psychology research, which rates humans as more advanced than apes, are fatally flawed.

Professor Kim Bard, a comparative developmental psychologist from the University of Portsmouth, has spent a lifetime studying great apes, their cognitive development and what sets them apart from humans.

She has won a three-year 135,000 Leverhulme Trust grant to allow her to investigate cross-group variations in great apes' and human abilities and development. If she finds what she expects, her research will form a new gold standard for future research into cognitive abilities of both apes and humans.

Professor Bard will re-visit all available archives and studies of human and great ape development focusing on 'joint attention', the process whereby an infant engages with another about an object or event. Joint attention can be communicated by pointing, or shifting gaze from an object to another individual and back again when you want the other to look at the same object, for example.

Joint attention is also a key indicator of brain development and studies of this ability have always rated humans as more developed than apes.

But Professor Bard says such studies do not compare like with like. For example, many studies compare the abilities of a Western child raised in a close family with an ape reared in an orphanage.

She will devise a new method for measuring the cognitive social and emotional abilities of human and great ape infants to eliminate such variables. This would reveal much more precisely how and when we differ from our great ape cousins and help build better theories of the evolution of social cognition.

She said: "The claim that joint attention is a uniquely human trait has been developed by studying Western human infants compared to great ape adults.

"Results of my own such 'niche environment' studies have shown apes can be more or less clever than Western human infants depending on their rearing conditions.

"What none of these or other studies have measured, though, is the comparative differences when you take out all the confounding variables of type of parenting and culture. That is what my new research aims to do -- to reveal what really sets humans and great apes apart. I think I will find that great apes are capable of 'joint attention'."

Professor Bard said she was delighted to have won a grant from the Leverhulme Trust.

"There is an urgent need to revise evolutionary theory and what I propose to research is innovative and important. Moreover, I hope to contribute to a major paradigm shift in our understanding and future research into developmental processes underlying great ape cognitive outcomes."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Portsmouth. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Portsmouth. "Great apes might be misunderstood." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006085450.htm>.
University of Portsmouth. (2010, November 1). Great apes might be misunderstood. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006085450.htm
University of Portsmouth. "Great apes might be misunderstood." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101006085450.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins