Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Evolutionary roots of collaboration

The evolutionary Roots of Human Collaborative Problem-solving: Insights from Chimpanzees

Collaboration is ubiquitous to humanity. Most major human successes and discoveries would not have been possible without the capacity to put our heads together to solve new problems. Communication is critical to this ability: we are often able to engineer successful cooperation through sharing information with collaborative partners. Funded by the Templeton Foundation Diverse Intelligences Initiative, the aim of this project is to learn about the evolution of human collaborative problem solving by asking how one of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, use communication for collaboration.


We will conduct behavioural experiments designed to investigate the cognitive flexibility underlying the collaborative behaviour of chimpanzees. These experiments will be conducted in collaboration with two East African chimpanzee sanctuaries: Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Kenya and Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Uganda.

Research Questions

  • What are the non-verbal coordination strategies adopted by chimpanzees aiming to collaborate?
  • How flexible are chimpanzees’ cooperative communicative skills?