Chimpanzees have policemen, too: study

Mar 07, 2012
Mostly high-ranking males or females intervene in a conflict. Credit: Claudia Rudolf von Rohr

Conflict management is crucial for social group cohesion, and while humans may still be working out some of the details, new research shows that some chimpanzees engage in impartial, third-party "policing" activity as well.

Conflicts are inevitable wherever there is cohabitation. This is no different with our closest , the chimpanzees. Sound conflict management is crucial for group cohesion. Individuals in chimpanzee communities also ensure that there is peace and order in their group. This form of conflict management is called "policing" – the impartial intervention of a third party in a conflict. Until now, this morally motivated behavior in chimpanzees was only ever documented anecdotally. However, primatologists from the University of Zurich can now confirm that chimpanzees intervene impartially in a conflict to guarantee the stability of their group. They therefore exhibit prosocial behavior based on an interest in community concern.

Chimpanzees are interested in social cohesion. Credit: Claudia Rudolf von Rohr

The willingness of the arbitrators to intervene impartially is greatest if several quarrelers are involved in a dispute as such conflicts particularly jeopardize group peace. The researchers observed and compared the behavior of four different captive chimpanzee groups. At Walter Zoo in Gossau, they encountered special circumstances: "We were lucky enough to be able to observe a group of chimpanzees into which new females had recently been introduced and in which the ranking of the males was also being redefined. The stability of the group began to waver. This also occurs in the wild," explains Claudia Rudolf von Rohr, the lead author of the study.

Not every chimpanzee makes a suitable arbitrator. It is primarily high-ranking males or females or animals that are highly respected in the group that intervene in a conflict. Otherwise, the arbitrators are unable to end the successfully. As with humans, there are also authorities among . "The interest in community concern that is highly developed in us humans and forms the basis for our moral behavior is deeply rooted. It can also be observed in our closest relatives," concludes Rudolf von Rohr.

Explore further: Risk-taking behavior depends on metabolic rate and temperature in great tits

More information: Claudia Rudolf von Rohr, Sonja E. Koski, Judith M. Burkart, Clare Caws, Orlaith N. Fraser, Angela Ziltener, Carel P. van Schaik. Impartial third-party interventions in captive chimpanzees: a reflection of community concern. PLoS ONE, March 7, 2012. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032494

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Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2012
Until now, this morally motivated behavior in chimpanzees was only ever documented anecdotally. However, primatologists from the University of Zurich can now confirm that chimpanzees intervene impartially in a conflict to guarantee the stability of their group.


More like the impartiality of the researchers has assumed the motivation of a bunch of chimps, much less the articles lack of clarity in regards to other species like horses and dogs that have alpha or high ranking members that keep the others in line.
ziphead
3 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2012
Why "policemen"? If you go by what is observed, these apes in charge act more like lawyers or politicians.
Telekinetic
Mar 07, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
RitchieGuy
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2012
hah. . .no monkeying around with that bunch :)
RitchieGuy
1 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2012
Why "policemen"? If you go by what is observed, these apes in charge act more like lawyers or politicians.


or union shop stewards
roboferret
3 / 5 (2) Mar 08, 2012

More like the impartiality of the researchers has assumed the motivation of a bunch of chimps,


These interventions benefit the group as a whole, and only benefit the "policing" chimp indirectly. That is moral behaviour.


much less the articles lack of clarity in regards to other species like horses and dogs that have alpha or high ranking members that keep the others in line.

Because it's a study about chimps.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2012
These interventions benefit the group as a whole, and only benefit the "policing" chimp indirectly.


It fully and directly benefits the "policing" chimp. It specifically states only high ranking chimps carry any weight. Why does intervention directly benefit it? Because it keeps his high ranking status in order. If you lose the group or if a new chimp gains more control, he loses out. It is the same for horses and dogs. When new individuals get tossed into the group, especially a group that is in chaos to begin with, they fight for position. The previous alpha will always assert itself to its direct benefit, even if it didn't start the fight.

That is moral behaviour.
It has nothing to do with morality or the morals of the situation. The chimp doesn't consider what is good or bad about it.

A 3rd party would be a researcher interjecting his will on the squabbling chimps. A chimp from the same group is like a boss ending a fight among his employees.
roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2012
These interventions benefit the group as a whole, and only benefit the "policing" chimp indirectly.


It fully and directly benefits the "policing" chimp. It specifically states only high ranking chimps carry any weight.



It specifically states that they are more likely to intervene if the squabble is likely to destabilise the group. This is different to a direct threat to their authority. "Good" behaviour is behaviour that benefit the group as a unit. "Bad" behaviour is behaviour that destabilises the group. Just like human morality.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2012
It specifically states that they are more likely to intervene if the squabble is likely to destabilise the group. This is different to a direct threat to their authority.


Not so. Any destabilization of the group especially over rank among the group can directly affect the mediator's authority, who is a higher rank. If the group dissolves, then he leads nothing. He's just as likely to be stepping in to protect his rank.

"Good" behaviour is behaviour that benefit the group as a unit. "Bad" behaviour is behaviour that destabilises the group. Just like human morality.


Human morality isn't based on the stabilization of a group. There are plenty of groups with bad behavior that are stable, from tactics like fear, as an example.
roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2012
Fear of punishment is a tiny part of "moral" behaviour. Morality is basically game theory applied to the social sphere. Most people don't kill other people because they don't want to be killed, and not being killed requires that we make a common agreement not to kill eachother.
People who commit crimes against others are punished and weeded out, and stability is maintained. Stable groups flourish, unstable groups are divided and perish. "morality" (selfless behaviour) is thus a evolutionary trait selected for in herd/pack animals.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2012
I disagree. Morality assumes an independent standard of what is right and wrong. It is not the result of social group desires or the man with the most power.

What you describe is not a "selfless behavior", but it is a selfish behavior of the weaker group members or a weaker species. It is why smaller fish swim in schools, while a shark often swims alone. That has ZERO to do with morality in nature. They don't weigh the cost of righteousness. We do.

Without morality in the first place, we would kill our brother just for gain. Instead, because of it, it takes anger, rage, jealousy, covetness, selfishness in order to set that standard aside. We weigh, not just the societal benefits, but the question animals never do, and that is whether or not it is right or wrong in the first place.
roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2012
Not really. Our "morality" varies on how close genetically and culturally we are related. We would throw ourselves in front of a bus for our own child, but when we see starvation or genocide in a far flung place on T.V, we can't manage more than a vague sense of concern. Morality is the product of empathy. Unfortunately religion has hijacked these feelings and pretends it has a monopoly, many times people have ignored their conscience and followed a "higher" morality imposed from outside, such as 9/11, slavery or King Saul's genocide of the amalekites.
roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Mar 19, 2012
Without morality in the first place, we would kill our brother just for gain.


And that society would quickly fall apart and become extinct, leaving more co-operative societies to survive. We have morality because we evolved that way. Because we need eachother, even if we don't like eachother.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
We would throw ourselves in front of a bus for our own child, but when we see starvation or genocide in a far flung place on T.V, we can't manage more than a vague sense of concern.


If that were true, they would never be helped. Where as not everyone is moved to help, many are moved whether directly or indirectly.

Morality is the product of empathy.


Empathy is product of morality. Morality sits upon it's own standard of what is right and wrong. If it does not, then it is entirely relative. You defeat your own argument if you make morality a product instead of the initial condition.

For the following reason and example
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
Because we need eachother, even if we don't like eachother.


But we do not. A person's lifespan will only marginally increase by working socially with others, and that is not a guarantee. So it would only benefit a person to wipe everyone else out, take the money, food, resources, and pleasure for themselves while they have life left. The individual is not bound to the whole scope of evolution. The individual does not care.

That is no different for the earliest of species. It only cares about it's life, not it's genetic decent or it's competition.

Morality, for humans, must then be ingrained from the beginning, or else it would never have lasted. Morality could not have evolved because consideration for other life must be given from the start, not at the end or some place down the road. Because morality is initial, empathy becomes the evolution or the product. Not the other way around. You can't have the photo prior to using a camera.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
Unfortunately religion has hijacked these feelings and pretends it has a monopoly, many times people have ignored their conscience and followed a "higher" morality imposed from outside, such as 9/11, slavery or King Saul's genocide of the amalekites.


Religion has had it's abuses, but genocides, slavery, war has been common to man with or without religion as it's excuse. To not recognize that it is man who is evil in the first place, wanting destroy even what is right and true, leaves you blind.

The Amalekites go back to Exodus, which if you read 1 Samuel 15, you would see why the Lord commands Saul to destroy them. They picked a fight with a helpless group of slaves that had just left Egypt. In other words, they tried to slaughter/enslave a weak people.

Which they then having lost the battle, walked right into Egypt which had no army, and conquered the Egyptians. Most likely, the Hyskos, who would spend years and years raiding the Israelites, until Saul.

roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
The Amalekites go back to Exodus, which if you read 1 Samuel 15, you would see why the Lord commands Saul to destroy them. They picked a fight with a helpless group of slaves that had just left Egypt. In other words, they tried to slaughter/enslave a weak people.


Exactly my point. They were exterminated, man woman and child (genocide), for an alleged crime of an ancestor, and you have no problem with this because it's claimed your god said so. You consider an act of depraved evil to be moral. If you felt god ordered you to kill someone today, what would stop you doing it? If it was ok in the past, but not now, then GOD's moral standard has changed.
roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2012
But we do not. A person's lifespan will only marginally increase by working socially with others, and that is not a guarantee.


Evolution works on the level of populations. A population genetically inclined to cooperate will out-compete selfish ones.

So it would only benefit a person to wipe everyone else out, take the money, food, resources, and pleasure for themselves while they have life left.

And then get eaten. Such individuals do occur from time to time, but they don't generally last long enough to reproduce.
The individual is not bound to the whole scope of evolution. The individual does not care.


The individual will act according to his/her genetic disposition. Evolution selects for cooperative genetic traits at the population level.

That is no different for the earliest of species. It only cares about it's life, not it's genetic decent or it's competition.

Its life depends on cooperation and harmony of the group.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2012
They were exterminated, man woman and child (genocide), for an alleged crime of an ancestor, and you have no problem with this because it's claimed your god said so.


Crimes they were still committing, not just their ancestors. It was a war the Amelekites began and had continued. Saul actually does not do everything he was asked to do, and this is where Saul's days as King come to an end.

I have no problem with God's judgement here, for several reasons. 1. The Amalekites were not innocent, but a barbaric culture. What they attempted would be like a nation trying to kill/enslave the Indians while on the Trail of Tears.
2. God created man. Man is not a god, but subject to God. Therefore, man is always subject to God's judgement, especially when found guilty.
3. Saul excuses the Kenites because of their kindness, and thus they departed and were not destroyed with the Amalekites.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2012
If you felt god ordered you to kill someone today, what would stop you doing it? If it was ok in the past, but not now, then GOD's moral standard has changed.


There is a lot to say here, but little room. The moral standard has not changed though. God delays judgement for the purpose of redemption. This is mercy and grace because it is not deserved nor merited, from Adam to present day.

God does not speak directly through a no-named individual with no authority, to assassinate someone randomly. He uses nation to judge nation, including Israel which was subject to the same requirements if not more so because they had the law. See Deut 28:20 He used men of authority to judge men of authority.

The difference from say Amalek and Israel is that Israel came to repentance, while Amalek despite knowing Israel, Israel's God, and the works he had done, continued to reject.

Cont.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2012
God is not going to speak directly today, like he did then, largely because Christ has also come, even more so than the written Word provided. Christ is the ultimate prophet, priest, and King. The authority by whom all are judged.

God will no more speak to me or you in some audible direct fashion than he would even to the president to go kill someone. It didn't work like that then, and it certainly doesn't work like that now.

Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2012
Evolution works on the level of populations. A population genetically inclined to cooperate will out-compete selfish ones.


Which means you would need a population to begin with. Your reasoning is entirely, population breeds population. Which would be perfectly fine considering Genesis 1 describes populations from the start, but typical biological evolution assumes a cell, not a population.

Thus to go from individual cell to population, the genetics must already be ingrained.

The individual will act according to his/her genetic disposition


Exactly. There is no incentive on the individual in the beginning to reproduce much less populate, so you entirely prove my point. That reproduction and population are ingrained in the genes from the start. They can not evolve later from a singularity.

Its life depends on cooperation and harmony of the group.


But it doesn't. A population doesn't usually eat itself for sustenance. It eats other nutrients.
roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2012
Well good on the Israelites for killing those evil babies. I'm trying hard not to Godwin you here, but you don't make it easy.
God DID tell people to go kill someone, and some people claim he still does, so who are you to disagree? What is the cutoff point for listening to voices in your head?

The rest of your posts just demonstrate how ignorant you are of evolutionary theory, you really need to read up on the basics. There is more to survival than nutrients. Defence, and a redundant gene base are a couple of advantages to cooperative societies.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2012
God DID tell people to go kill someone, and some people claim he still does, so who are you to disagree? What is the cutoff point for listening to voices in your head?


Because Christ tells Peter to put the sword away when they came to arrest him.

You have not reckoned with the distinguishment between assassination and judgement. God in the OT works through the law and the authority that he has established. He does not tell anyone randomly to go kill someone randomly.

While Israel spent it's time in slavery, the Canaanites had degenerated into cultures that were a reflection of Sodom and Gomorrah, they were violent, including child sacrifices to their false gods. And they had the choice. Rahab is one example that they knew, that they had heard, that word still got around.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2012
The rest of your posts just demonstrate how ignorant you are of evolutionary theory, you really need to read up on the basics.


Attacking one's intelligence does not buffer your argument.

Evolutionary theory is simply that change occurs over time via reproduction. Thus simple logic dictates that reproduction must be available for evolution to ever occur at any degree of change. If you can't reproduce, you can not evolve, period.

There is more to survival than nutrients. Defence, and a redundant gene base are a couple of advantages to cooperative societies.


And the more you tack on to survival only increases the necessity for these basics to be ingrained from the beginning, not evolving later.

Why do trees bare fruit, but not for itself?
roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2012
I'm sorry if you felt I attacked your intelligence. It was your demonstrable lack of knowledge of evolution that I was pointing out. The 'basics' aren't that basic. Our ability (and that of other social species)to reproduce is directly dependent on our ability to co-operate. this includes access to "nutrients"
roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2012
He does not tell anyone randomly to go kill someone randomly.

Sampson did a fair bit of that.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2012
I'm sorry if you felt I attacked your intelligence. It was your demonstrable lack of knowledge of evolution that I was pointing out.


Well if you had demonstrated it, it still isn't purposeful to degrade one's argument on the basis of what you may feel is less intelligent. Since you didn't demonstrate it and only confirmed what I had said when say here
Our ability (and that of other social species)to reproduce is directly dependent on our ability to co-operate. this includes access to "nutrients"
take the time to consider what I'm saying. don't go diving to insulting the argument because you have nothing to offer in rebuttal. (Esp if you do have something, because this only makes it look like you don't.)

Cohabitation and symbiotic relationships are the complexity that must be already ingrained from the beginning. They are not possible otherwise. The tree which uses other nutrients, does not arise to provide fruit for something else via random luck.



Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Mar 30, 2012
Sampson did a fair bit of that.


Samson was anointed to be a judge, yet Samson had a problem with women, namely after the Philistines defiled his wife. You will need to 1. provide the passage where God speaks directly to Samson at all and 2. Establish how any of this was "random" killing.

Israel at the time of Samson had been in the hands of the philistines for 40 years. God has every right, not only to punish Samson for his sins, which were many, but also to punish Israel, and the Philistines.