Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) Prefer to Cooperate When Petted: Integrating Proximate and Ultimate Explanations II

Amir Perelberg, Richard Schuster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cooperation poses theoretical problems because the behaviors of individuals can benefit others. Evolutionary and game-theory explanations that focus on maximizing one's own material outcomes are usually supported by experimental models with isolated and anonymous subjects. Cooperation in the natural world, however, is often a social act whereby familiar individuals coordinate behaviors for shared outcomes. Social cooperation is also associated with a cooperation bias expressed as a preference for cooperation even when noncooperation is immediately more beneficial. The authors report on evidence for such a bias in a captive group of bottlenose dolphins that voluntarily preferred to receive petting from human guides by using a pairwise coordinated approach, even though this was more difficult, and total petting amount was thereby reduced. To explain why this bias occurs, the authors propose an integrated behavioral-evolutionary approach whereby performance is determined by two kinds of immediate outcomes: material gains and intrinsic affective states associated with cooperating. The latter can provide reinforcement when immediate material gains are reduced, delayed, or absent. Over a lifetime, this proximate mechanism can lead to cooperative relationships whose long-term ultimate consequences can be adaptive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983)
Volume123
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2009

Keywords

  • cooperation bias
  • coordinated cooperation
  • intrinsic reinforcement
  • proximate causes
  • Tursiops truncatus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) Prefer to Cooperate When Petted: Integrating Proximate and Ultimate Explanations II'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this