Home Magazine Monkey Machiavellian: Chimpanzee manipulator blows scientific hypotheses to pieces

Monkey Machiavellian: Chimpanzee manipulator blows scientific hypotheses to pieces

by ona
0 comment

The attempt got a bit out of Manon Schweinfurth’s control, even though she had thought it through perfectly. She hadn’t counted on Bobby. This twenty-four-year-old male chimpanzee despised the offer to cooperate with the other members of the gang and proved to be a perfect manipulator…

Zambia’s Chimfunshi reserve is one of the largest chimpanzee sanctuaries on the planet, and British and German scientists are studying the life of these amazing apes in almost natural conditions. The chimpanzees there live in the wild, where nothing restricts them. However, over the years of research, they have already gotten used to the presence of people and participating in various experiments apparently does not cause them problems.

Selfish Bobby
Manon Schweinfurth working at the University of St. Andrews presented a group of chimpanzees with an interesting challenge: At the push of a button, the great apes could open a tap with fruit juice. The hitch was that the knob and faucet were three meters apart. So the chimpanzee couldn’t push the button and enjoy the juice at the same time. He was dependent on foreign help. How will cooperation between the various gang members develop? And what forms will it take? Will everyone help everyone? Will there be „tandems“ whose cooperation will be based on the tactic „every moment moves the saw“? Male Bobby blew all scientific hypotheses to pieces with behavior that no one expected.

Bobby never considered helping others for a sweet reward and then benefiting from the help in return. He spotted three younger males and made them his „servants“. He forced them to push a button and run tap juice for him. But Bobby himself never pushed the button for these males. And he didn’t help other gang members either.

Tyranny and manipulation
The Machiavellian chimpanzee used several different strategies. Sometimes he simply grabbed the young male by the arm and dragged him to the button. The young male had no choice and didn’t even try to resist the much stronger Bobby. But sometimes Bobby would just nudge the male toward the knob and head for the faucet himself. It was a clear challenge, but the male didn’t have to listen to Bobby’s categorical „wish“. In some cases, the truly abused chimpanzees headed elsewhere than the button. But then Bobby took off after them in a flash and forced them to comply with the order.

Bobby demonstrated his manipulative skills in cases where he did not have his servants available. Then the wily ape resorted to pretense and began to play „good.“ He begged the other members of the gang to cooperate. He made typical pleading snorting sounds and extended his hand to the chimpanzees who were „addressed“ in this way. And he succeeded. In total, Bobby got the fruit juice more than a hundred times. But he himself did not help anyone with the sweet treat.

Price per game
Bobby used the other gang members as a „social tool“. To him, they were nothing more than a means to fulfill his desires. Manon Schweinfurth’s main concern was that the abused young males apparently did not try to avoid Bobby.

„They could hide from him quite easily,“ says Schweinfurth. “They could also seek support from other adult members of the gang, which they normally did in other situations. So why did they let Bobby abuse them like this? The explanation is perhaps surprising: Bobby played quite a lot with these young males, which is especially appreciated by young individuals. The males seemed to see the abuse as a price to pay for the joy of the game.”

Machiavellian strategies by which some are forced into activities that are not in their own interest and others benefit from these activities have long been considered the domain of Homo sapiens. „It’s really unusual to observe an animal that repeatedly exploits others for its own benefit,“ says Manon Schweinfurth. „We know such behavior well in humans, but we had no idea that animals are also capable of it. Repeated abuse requires the animal to use quite complex strategies to prevent the abuser from becoming shunned. This is an ability that we are used to seeing in human society, for example, in politics.“

An exception to the rule?
Some scientists have come to believe that Machiavellian behavior helped our prehistoric ancestors rise to the top of evolution. The mobs were forced to perform higher by their shrewd leaders and won competitively with „non-Machiavellian“ groups.

Selfish, manipulative behavior is today associated with the name of the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli. In his work Vladař, he recommended to monarchs to adhere to the principle „the end justifies the means“. Any strategy, including lies, deceit, betrayal, and other cynical contempt for morality, is justifiable if it helps the ruler to stay in power. But as the research of Manon Schweinfurth’s team, published in the scientific journal Journal of Comparative Psychology, proves, strategies based on manipulation have much deeper evolutionary roots and reach back to the animal ancestors of modern humans.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

O nás

„Publikaci PR článků pro vás zajišťuje Press Media > info@press-media.cz <. Realizujeme pro vás především publikaci článků pro ženy, o bydlení a ekonomice. Jako hlavní cíl při publikaci PR článků si klademe výběr cíleného publika v kontextovém zaměření.“