Recent Research Conducted at Gombe Sheds Light on Chimpanzee Psychology

Friday, June 6, 2014 - 11:38am
The innovative research carried out at the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanzania is famous for enlightening humans about the behaviour of chimpanzees.
 
However, this research is often useful in providing researchers insight to the psychology behind many human behaviors as well. JGI would like to share with you two recent studies written by scientists at Gombe, one focusing on chimpanzee gender roles and one which explores the ‘social networking’ capabilities of wild chimpanzees.
 
Boys Will Be Boys
 
People often wonder where our male/female gender roles originate. Is it simple biology that makes us the way we are, or is it perhaps the social conditioning permeating human society that shapes our perceptions of gendered behaviours?
 
Elizabeth V. Lonsdorf and her fellow researchers addressed this issue as it relates to chimpanzee society in her study Boys Will Be Boys, published in the Animal Behaviour journal earlier this year.
 
Focusing on recently-weaned infant chimpanzees, Lonsdorf observed when stereotypical male/female behaviours emerged and at what point gender differences became apparent among these young chimpanzees. Read more about Lonsdorf's findings and how they may relate to our own gender-roles.
 
 
Chimpanzee Civil War and Social Networking
 
In 1971, the Gombe Stream National Park was the site of an intense but nearly bloodless civil war among chimpanzees. While conflicts between chimpanzee groups are not uncommon, this event was rare in that the two groups of fighting chimpanzees originated from one larger group.
 
In hopes of learning the catalyst of this unusual intra-group schism, Duke University Ph.D. student Joseph Feldblum and a team of three other researchers examined Dr. Goodall’s notes on the Gombe civil war. One tool they used in their analysis was UCINET, software that analyzes social network data. UCINET helped the researchers locate patterns and social dynamics among the two groups of chimpanzees. Learn more about what the researchers discovered, and find out just what started Gombe’s 1971 chimpanzee civil war

 

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