Why do apes cooperate?
Cooperation is ubiquitous in the animal kingdom and yet, humans have turned cooperation into one of their defining features. Our level of cooperation has become such that members of our species can cooperate with large numbers of genetically unrelated partners for extended periods of time, in some cases spanning generations. How did this come about over evolutionary time? In this talk, I will turn to our closest living relatives, the great apes, in an attempt to throw some light into this question. I will explore the prosocial behavior of the great apes defined as one individual doing something resulting in the benefit of another. In particular, I will present data on helping and collaboration in chimpanzees, bonobos, and orang-utans and compare it with data on children presented with comparable tasks. I will use these comparative data to uncover the socio-ecological and motivational factors that determine the emergence of cooperation in humans and nonhuman apes.