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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Cooperation & Prosociality

Callithrix jacchus group

A lot of our work focusses on the evolutionary origin of proactive prosociality. Across several primate species, including humans, proactive prosociality is particularly high in species with shared infant care (cooperative breeding).

We are also interested in prosocial behavior under naturalistic situations (in the wild), and how it is regulated proximately with regard to the role of the neurohormone oxytocin, to what extent these behaviors are under intentional control, or how it is affected by bystanders.

Here are some selected references from this line of work

  • Burkart, J. M., & van Schaik, C. P. (2020). Marmoset prosociality is intentional. Animal Cognition, 1-14.
  • Guerreiro Martins, E., Moura, A., Finkenwirth, C. & Burkart, J. M. (2019) Food sharing in three species of callitrichid monkeys: Individual differences and interspecific variation. Journal of Comparative Psychology. 133(4), 474–487.
  • Brügger, R. K., Kappeler-Schmalzriedt, T. & Burkart, J. M. (2018). Reverse audience effects on helping in cooperatively breeding common marmosets. Biology Letters, 14(3)
  • Finkenwirth, C. & Burkart, J. M. (2017) Long-term-stability of relationship structure in family groups of common marmosets, and its link to proactive prosociality Physiology and Behavior, 173, 79-86.
  • Finkenwirth, C. F., Martins, E., Deschner, T. & Burkart, J. M. (2016). Oxytocin as a mediator of infant care behavior and motivation in cooperatively breeding marmosets. Hormones and Behavior, 80, 10-18.
  • Burkart, J. M. (2015). Opposite effects of male and female helpers on social tolerance and proactive prosociality in callitrichid family groups. Scientific Reports, 5, 9622.
  • Burkart, J. M., Allon, A., Amici, F., Fichtel, C., Finkenwirth, C., Heschl, A., Huber, J., Isler, K., Kosonen, Z., Martins, E., Meulman, E., Richiger, R., Rueth, K., Spillmann, B., Wiesendanger, S. & van Schaik, C. P. (2014). The evolutionary origin of human hyper-cooperation. Nature Communications 5, 4747.
  • Burkart, J. M. & Rueth, K. (2013). Preschool children fail primate prosocial game because of attentional task demands. PLOS One, 8(7), e68440.
  • Burkart, J. M., Fehr, E., Efferson, C., & van Schaik, C. P. (2007). Other-regarding preferences in a nonhuman primate: Common marmosets provision food altruistically. PNAS 104 (50), 19762-19766.