No third-party punishment in chimpanzees

Katrin Riedl, Keith Jensen*, Josep Call, Michael Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Punishment can help maintain cooperation by deterring free-riding and cheating. Of particular importance in large-scale human societies is third-party punishment in which individuals punish a transgressor or norm violator even when they themselves are not affected. Nonhuman primates and other animals aggress against conspecifics with some regularity, but it is unclear whether this is ever aimed at punishing others for noncooperation, and whether third-party punishment occurs at all. Here we report an experimental study in which one of humans' closest living relatives, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), could punish an individual who stole food. Dominants retaliated when their own food was stolen, but they did not punish when the food of third-parties was stolen, even when the victim was related to them. Third-party punishment as a means of enforcing cooperation, as humans do, might therefore be a derived trait in the human lineage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14824-14829
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume109
Issue number37
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2012

Keywords

  • social evolution
  • human evolution
  • negative reciprocity
  • norm enforcement
  • great apes
  • INSECT SOCIETIES
  • ALTRUISTIC PUNISHMENT
  • WILD CHIMPANZEES
  • ANIMAL SOCIETIES
  • COOPERATION
  • EVOLUTION
  • PUNISHERS
  • INEQUITY
  • MACAQUES
  • BEHAVIOR

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