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BonobosUnique in Mind, Brain, and Behavior$
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Brian Hare and Shinya Yamamoto

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198728511

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198728511.001.0001

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Does the bonobo have a (chimpanzee-like) theory of mind?

Does the bonobo have a (chimpanzee-like) theory of mind?

(p.81) Chapter 6 Does the bonobo have a (chimpanzee-like) theory of mind?

Christopher Krupenye

Evan L. MacLean

Brian Hare

Oxford University Press

Theory of mind—the ability to reason about the thoughts and emotions of others—is central to what makes us human. Chimpanzees too appear to understand some psychological states. While less is known about bonobos, several lines of evidence suggest that the social-cognitive abilities of the two sister taxa may differ in key respects. This chapter outlines a framework to guide future research on bonobo social cognition based on the predictions of two potentially complementary hypotheses. The self-domestication hypothesis suggests that selection against aggression and for prosociality in bonobos may have impacted the ontogeny of their social-cognitive skills relative to chimpanzees. The empathizing–systemizing hypothesis links degree of prenatal brain masculinization, a potential result of self-domestication, to adult cognition. Specifically, relative feminization may yield more flexible theory of mind skills in bonobos than chimpanzees. Finally, directions for future study, including development of new paradigms that maximize ecological validity for bonobos, are discussed. La théorie de l’esprit—le pouvoir de raisonner les pensées et émotions des autres—est centrale à notre nature humaine. Il parait que les chimpanzés peuvent comprendre quelques états psychologiques. Tandis que nous savons moins des bonobos, plusieurs témoignages suggèrent que les capacités socio-cognitives des deux taxons soeur peuvent différer dans des aspects clefs. Nous traçons un cadre pour guider les prochaines recherches sur la cognition sociale des bonobos, basé sur les prédictions de deux hypothèses potentiellement complémentaires. L’hypothèse d’auto-domestication suggère que l’anti-agression et la prosocialité des bonobos a influé leur ontogenèse et leur capacités socio-cognitives relativement aux chimpanzés. L’hypothèse d’empathie systématique (Empathizing–Systemizing) forme un lien entre le degré de masculinisation prénatale du cerveau, le résultat potentiel d’auto-domestication, et la cognition adulte. Spécifiquement, la féminisation relative génère des théories de l’esprit plus flexibles chez les bonobos que chez les chimpanzés. Enfin, nous discutons le directions pour les prochaines études, inclut le développement de nouveaux paradigmes qui maximisent la validité écologique des bonobos.

Keywords:   Bonobo, Chimpanzee, theory of mind, social cognition, mind reading, self-domestication, systemizing–empathizing, cognitive evolution

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