Animal social cognition
An important part of our work, in which our group has a long tradition, is concerned with non-human primates. After extensive research into the ecology and evolution of primate social behaviour, we have now begun to focus on the cognitive mechanisms of primate social behaviour.
We investigate which social cognitive capacities primates have and how these are translated into social behaviour. While humans have Theory of Mind, monkeys possess probably only a few, but apes may possess several related cognitive capacities.
Recently, we have expanded our focus to also include the social cognition of birds, and particularly corvids and parrots.
In birds, primates and humans, we investigate patterns in dyadic and triadic social behaviour using observational studies. These are related to underlying social cognitive capacities.
In primates and birds, we test social cognitive capacities and social knowledge, e.g. episodic memory and visual perspective taking, employing voluntary behavioural paradigms.
With computer models, we investigate the relationship between variation in cognitive capacities and patterns in social behaviour.
Project leader is Liesbeth (Elisabeth) Sterck.
Research projects are conducted by Anne-Marijke Schel, Suska Nolte and Jorg Massen.
Work is conducted at the Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Rijswijk, Burgers' Zoo, Arnhem, Avifauna, Alphen a.d. Rijn, and the Austrian Research Center for Primatology, at Affenberg Lansdkron, Austria.