Chimpanzee cooperation

Photo credit: Frans de Waal, Yerkes National Primate Research Center

Chimpanzees have a reputation for being aggressive and competitive, and they certainly can be. However, they also have great potential for prosocial behavior and cooperation. With colleagues at the Living Links Center of Emory University, I have been studying what makes cooperation work. Questions I am interested include: what makes a good cooperative partner? What are the deal breakers? How are cooperative relationships initiated and maintained?

Prior to studying chimpanzee cooperation, I examined similar questions in capuchin monkeys by looking at how partner familiarity and fairness influenced prosocial tendencies.

Prospective research assistants please note: I am no longer accepting students to work on chimpanzee research.

Video credit: Frans de Waal, Yerkes National Primate Research Center

Publications (* denotes mentored undergraduate)

Suchak, M., Watzek, J., *Quarles L.F., and de Waal, F.B.M. (2018). Expert chimpanzees facilitate success without precise coordination in a cooperative task. Animal Cognition, 21, 87-98.

Suchak, M., Eppley, T.M., Campbell, M.W., *Feldman R.A., *Quarles, L.F., and de Waal, F.B.M. (2016). How chimpanzees cooperate in a competitive world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 10215-10220. doi:10.1073/pnas.1611826113.

Suchak, M., Eppley, T.M., Campbell, M.W. and de Waal, F.B.M. (2014). Ape duos and trios: Chimpanzee cooperation under free partner choice. PeerJ. 2:e417

*Crick, J., Suchak, M., Eppley, T.M., Campbell, M.W. and de Waal, F.B.M. (2013). The roles of food quality and sex in chimpanzee sharing behavior (Pan troglodytes). Behaviour, 150, 1203-1224.

Eppley, T.M., Suchak, M., *Crick, J., and de Waal, F.B.M. (2013). Perseverance and food sharing among closely related chimpanzees. Primates, 54, 319-324.

Suchak M. and de Waal, F.B.M. (2012). Monkeys benefit from reciprocity without the cognitive burden. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 109, 15191-15196.

Horner, V., Carter, J. D., Suchak, M. and de Waal, F. B. M. (2011) Spontaneous prosocial choice in chimpanzees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 108, 13847-13851.

de Waal, F.B.M. and Suchak M. (2010). Prosocial Primates: Selfish and Unselfish Motivations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 365, 2711-2722.

Selected press coverage