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Social: Baboons make agreements for mutual benefit

Social: Baboons make agreements for mutual benefit

Science social animals

Not a unique selling point for humans – baboons can make agreements

Hamadrias Baboon Hamadrias Baboon

Three monkeys pose with a group that looks very human

Coyle: Getty Images

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The ability to agree on social norms is thus far a unique selling point for people. French researchers have now shown that baboons are also capable of this complex performance.

withFor the first time it was observed in animal species that group members develop new social traditions and can then adhere to them for the long term.

The French researchers describe their findings, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, as “groundbreaking”. For the first time it has been shown that the ability to adopt social norms is not a unique selling point for humans, Homo sapiens.

Not surprisingly, researchers from the Primate Center in Rousset-sur-Arc and the Cognitive Psychology Laboratory at Aix-Marseille University carried out their experiments. monkeys They were performed – with baboons, which are very social animals. Baboons can communicate with each other in many ways, including facial expressions, posture, physical contact, and sounds.

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The researchers assigned the baboons the following task: They were presented with two different images chosen at random from a database. These two images were shown to two monkeys on two separate screens.

Rewards require cooperation

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In order to receive a reward, both baboons then had to select the same image. The animals quickly learned what this was. They understood that they had to coordinate with each other or agree on conventions when selecting images in order to receive the reward. It has succeeded.

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In the first stage, the animals were able to see each other, so that the decision for the same image could have come simply through imitation as a solution strategy. But even if the animals could no longer observe each other, they would selectively choose the same images. This proves that they somehow had to agree on the criteria for selecting the images.

These agreements were effective because they allowed animals to be rewarded. In addition, it has been independently agreed upon by researchers without any specification. This is also noteworthy, that these agreements remained stable over long periods of time, so they were not forgotten again after a short time.

If these three points are met, according to the researchers, one can speak of “social norms”.

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