Man's best friend lends insight into human evolution

Armen Hareyan's picture

Dogs and Evolution

Flexibly drawing inferences about the intentions of other individuals in order to cooperate in complex tasks is a basic part of everyday life that we humans take for granted. But, according to evolutionary psychologist Brian Hare at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, this ability is present in other species as well.

As Hare discusses in the April issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, chimpanzees utilize social cues like eye gaze and face orientation to monitor others' behavior or infer motives of other subordinate or dominant individuals, or even deceive them, when competing for food. But it turns out that chimps are not very good at drawing inferences about others' mental states in cooperative situations