Collaboration and Communication

‘Virtually all of humans’ highest cognitive achievements are not the work of individuals acting alone but rather of individuals collaborating in groups. Other great apes, especially chimpanzees, coordinate their actions with others in a number of complex ways—for example, in capturing small animals and in coalitions and alliances in intragroup conflicts (Muller & Mitani, 2005). But humans collaborate and communicate with one another in especially complex ways that go beyond simple coordination, ending up with such things as complex social institutions structured by joint goals, division of labor, and communicative symbols.

The ability to collaborate and communicate with others in sophisticated, species-unique ways is apparent even in prelinguistic human infants […]. In a recent comparative study, human 1-year-olds and juvenile chimpanzees each engaged in a collaborative task with a human adult. When the adult stopped participating, the chimpanzees simply tried to solve the task alone. The human children, in contrast, employed various forms of communication to try to reengage the adult into the task. The children seemed to understand that the two of them had committed themselves to doing this together and it simply would not do if the adult was shirking her duty. The collaboration was structured by joint goals and joint commitments to one another (Warneken, Chen, & Tomasello, 2006). It is not difficult to see in these simple activities the roots of the kind of collaborative commitments and activities that structure human social institutions, from governments to religions.’

– Tomasello. M., Herrmann. E. (2010) “Ape and Human Cognition: What’s the difference?” Current Directions in Psychological Science 19(1) 3-8

5 thoughts on “Collaboration and Communication

  1. You underestimate me – regardless of what I say, I find that I can ALWAYS offend SOMEone!

  2. it’s the fault of your chosen avatar, Archaeopteryx, and brief quote from the New Brunswick Naturalist, 1992 article entitled, Is this a bird or a fraud – “Fittingly, Archaeopteryx still continues to be the subject of much controversy and debate even today.” There you have it.

  3. It’s the fault of your chosen avatar, Archaeopteryx” – I prefer to think it’s because I have an extremely abrasive personality toward those I find insincere or those who chose not to think for themselves. There are those who say I’m a nice guy, but I am not among them.

    And feel free to call me Arch – it’ll save you a lot of letters.

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