Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In solving social dilemmas, vervet monkeys get by with a little patience

Date:
March 28, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
People could learn a lot from vervet monkeys. When vervets need to work together, they don't tell each other what to do or punish uncooperative behavior. But according to new evidence, they do get by, with a little patience.

People could learn a lot from vervet monkeys. When vervets need to work together, they don't tell each other what to do or punish uncooperative behavior. But according to evidence reported on March 28 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, they do get by, with a little patience.
Credit: Current Biology, Fruteau et al.

People could learn a lot from vervet monkeys. When vervets need to work together, they don't tell each other what to do or punish uncooperative behavior. But according to evidence reported on March 28 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, they do get by, with a little patience.

"The vervets show us that tolerance towards group members and patience while others are learning how they can improve things individually can go a long way in solving coordination problems," said Ronald Noë of Université de Strasbourg in France.

In the study, the researchers had groups of vervet monkeys, two living freely in a South African park and another in captivity in France, play a social game without offering them any training on the game or how to play it. In each "forbidden circle" experiment, a single low-ranking female was trained to open a container holding a large amount of food only when other monkeys dominant to her stayed outside an imaginary circle. If anyone was to get their treats, everyone had to figure out the rules and show enough restraint to follow them.

And sure enough, the vervets did. One by one, without any guidance from humans, the dominant monkeys learned to control themselves. As soon as all of them showed restraint, the provider monkey in the middle opened the bin of food right away, saving everyone precious time.

Remarkably, the vervet monkeys each learned how to "play" on their own, in order of dominance and by trial and error. Higher-ranking monkeys figured out the rules most quickly because their status allowed them to reach the food dispenser first and to see the provider's response that their actions provoked. With the rules to "back off" understood, those more dominant individuals watched on patiently until each of their peers followed suit. The monkeys showed no evidence of communication or coercion at all.

Noë said the findings represent skills that the vervets probably use all the time, in coordinating movements for protection of the group or their territory, for example.

Their behavior shows that higher cognitive processes, such as insight into the thoughts of others and complex language, aren't always needed to solve complex social puzzles. "These capacities do help us a lot, of course, and the fact that humans are so often confronted with such [coordination] problems may well explain the evolution of language and higher cognitive capacities," Noë said. "But individual learning and a bit of patience while others learn can go a long way too."

Noë said he hopes researchers will ask other species, including humans, to play the "Forbidden Circle game" and see how they do, noting that most of what we know so far comes from captive studies in which pairs of animals cooperate. He speculates that impatient baboons and chimps would really struggle. How do you think the children in your life might do?


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Cécile Fruteau, Eric van Damme, Ronald Noë. Vervet Monkeys Solve a Multiplayer “Forbidden Circle Game” by Queuing to Learn Restraint. Current Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.039

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "In solving social dilemmas, vervet monkeys get by with a little patience." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130328125056.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, March 28). In solving social dilemmas, vervet monkeys get by with a little patience. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130328125056.htm
Cell Press. "In solving social dilemmas, vervet monkeys get by with a little patience." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130328125056.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) — Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) — Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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