Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) learn to act with other individuals in a cooperative task.
We presented two chimpanzees with a task in which they were required to pull each end of a rope simultaneously to drag blocks supporting food into reach. The chimpanzees did not succeed in initial tests. They did not immediately understand the necessity for cooperation, and they did not adjust their behavior to work with the partner. However, the frequency of success gradually increased as the number of sessions increased and the task was varied. They began to look at the partner frequently, wait if the partner was not holding the rope, and pull the rope in synchrony with the partner. However, they did not use interactive behaviors or eye contact to synchronize their behavior. One chimpanzee was then paired with a human partner in the same situation. After initial failures, the chimpanzee began to solicit the human partner for cooperation: looking up at his face, vocalizing, and taking the partner's hand. When this chimpanzee was again paired with the chimpanzee partner, no soliciting behavior was observed. Thus, the chimpanzees could learn to coordinate their behavior through trial and error. Communicative behavior emerged during the task, but the communication differed according to the identity of the partner.