Nav: Home

Chimpanzee self-control is related to intelligence, Georgia State study finds

February 08, 2018

ATLANTA-As is true in humans, chimpanzees' general intelligence is correlated to their ability to exert self-control and delay gratification, according to new research at Georgia State University.

The research finding relates back to the famous "marshmallow test," an experiment originally performed at Stanford University in the 1960s. In the test, children are given the choice of taking a small, immediate reward (a single marshmallow placed in front of them) or waiting to earn a larger reward (two marshmallows). Previous research has found that children who perform well on the marshmallow test and other tests of delayed gratification tend to also perform well on tests of general intelligence.

Georgia State researchers Michael J. Beran and William D. Hopkins have found the same link exists in chimpanzees. In their study, published in Current Biology, chimpanzees performed the Hybrid Delay Task, which tracks how often chimpanzees choose to wait for a larger, better reward rather than taking a smaller reward right away. It also measures how well the chimpanzees managed to wait during the delay period, when there is a constant temptation to capitulate and accept the smaller reward.

The chimpanzees then completed the Primate Cognitive Test Battery, a test of general intelligence that measures a variety of individual social and cognitive factors, such as the capacity to follow pointing gestures.

Those chimpanzees who showed the highest levels of generalized intelligence were also the most efficient in the delayed gratification test. Intelligence scores were related not only to how often chimpanzees chose to try to wait for the better reward, but also to how well the chimpanzees could wait when they chose to do so. This was the first such study to examine the relation between general intelligence scores and delayed gratification abilities in chimpanzees.

"The fact that this link between self-control and intelligence exists in species other than humans may demonstrate an evolutionary basis for the role that willpower plays in general intelligence," said Beran, lead author of the study. "Future research could clarify whether the relationship also exists in other primates and even non-primate species."
-end-
The research was funded by grants HD-060563 and NS-42867 from the National Institutes of Health.

Georgia State University

Related Chimpanzees Articles:

Chimpanzees modify grooming behavior when near higher ranking members
Chimpanzees modify grooming behavior when near higher ranking members.
Chimpanzees adapt their foraging behavior to avoid human contact
Research by PhD candidate Nicola Bryson-Morrison from the University of Kent's School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC) suggests chimpanzees are aware of the risks of foraging too close to humans.
Genetic opposites attract when chimpanzees choose a mate
Duke University researchers find that chimpanzees are more likely to reproduce with mates whose genetic makeup most differs from their own.
Chimpanzees are 'indifferent' when it comes to altruism
New research into chimpanzees suggests that, when it comes to altruistically helping a fellow chimpanzee, they are 'indifferent.'
New study: Male chimpanzees can be players and good fathers
New research suggests that male chimpanzees are more invested in protecting their own offspring than previously thought.
More Chimpanzees News and Chimpanzees Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...