Sarah Brosnan: How do primates feel about their social partners?

Wednesday Jun 27   09:00 AM to 10:30 AM (1 hour 30 minutes)

Sarah Brosnan (Speaker)
Georgia State University

Kristin Andrews (Discussant)
York University

Alexander G. Ophir 
Cornell University

When we talk about human cooperation, we often use language that focuses on feelings: partners “like” each other or are “frustrated” by the other’s behavior. Other species also cooperate, but we tend to focus more on the outcomes of their interactions than onwhat they feel. This is due in no small part to the difficulty of knowing what they feel; unlike with humans, we can’t simply ask them. However, looking at their behavioral reactions during such interactions may give us some insight into their affective state. One of the foci of my work concerns how non-human primates respond when they are treated less well than a partner. Our data indicate that, like humans, other species feel frustrated or agitated by these interactions. I propose that these feelings are among the proximate mechanisms that lead the animal to quit cooperating or to change partners, both of which are partner choice mechanisms that benefit individuals in the long run. I will present these results and consider the degree to which we can understand what other species are feeling.

Brosnan, S. F., & Bshary, R. (2016). On potential links between inequity aversion and the structure of interactions for the evolution of cooperationBehaviour153(9-11), 1267-1292.

Brosnan, S. F., & de Waal, F. B. (2014). Evolution of responses to (un) fairnessScience346(6207), 1251776. 
Brosnan, S. F., Beran, M. J., Parrish, A. E., Price, S. A., & Wilson, B. J. (2013). Comparative approaches to studying strategy: Towards an evolutionary account of primate decision makingEvolutionary Psychology11(3),  
Cornell University
Georgia State University
York University

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