Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Cognitive Evolution in Primates: Evidence from Tactical Deception

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Through the compilation of an extensive catalogue of tactical deception in non-human primates, incorporating evidence contributed by many primatologists and covering all major taxa, it has become feasible to initiate quantitative comparisons between taxa, having adjusted for variations in the extent to which they have been studied. Papio and (especially) Pan show disproportionately high levels of tactical deception, whereas strepsirhines have not yielded any evidence of deception at all. Some records indicate sophisticated social cognition. Records implying the attribution of intentional states to others are associated with the great apes, particularly Pan, whereas the ability to compute the visual perspective of others conforms to the distribution of tactical deception across the anthropoids in general. These differences are used to infer critical changes in the course of primate social evolution. Changes appear to be due more to savannah dwelling and neocortical enlargement, itself linked to increased body size, than to a particular social structure.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-627
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1992

    Research areas


Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. A deepening understanding of animal culture suggests lessons for conservation

    Brakes, P., Carroll, E. L., Dall, S., Keith, S., McGregor, P., Mesnick, S., Noad, M., Rendell, L., Robbins, M., Rutz, C., Thorton, A., Whiten, A., Whiting, M., Aplin, L., Bearhop, S., Ciucci, P., Fishlock, V., Ford, J., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Simmonds, M. & 5 others, Spina, F., Wade, P., Whithead, H., Williams, J. & Garland, E. C., 28 Apr 2021, In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 288, 1949, 10 p., 20202718.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

  2. The psychological reach of culture in animals’ lives

    Whiten, A., 27 Apr 2021, In: Current Directions in Psychological Science. OnlineFirst

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Using natural travel paths to infer and compare primate cognition in the wild

    Janmaat, K. R. L., de Guinea, M., Collet, J., Byrne, R. W., Robira, B., van Loon, E., Jang, H., Biro, D., Ramos-Fernández, G., Ross, C., Presotto, A., Allritz, M., Alavi, S. & Van Belle, S., 23 Apr 2021, In: iScience. 24, 4, 17 p., 102343.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. The burgeoning reach of animal culture

    Whiten, A., 2 Apr 2021, In: Science. 372, 6537, eabe6514.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

  5. Chimpanzees’ behavioral flexibility, social tolerance and use of tool-composites in a progressively challenging foraging problem

    Harrison, R. A., van Leeuwen, E. & Whiten, A., 19 Feb 2021, In: iScience. 24, 2, 102033.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Myth and Meaning and the Tukolor Loom

    Dilley, R. M., Jun 1987, In: Man. 22, 2, p. 256-266

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Where the Women are the Cattle are not

    Dilley, R. M., 1987, In: Man. 22, 2, p. 360-360

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

ID: 4633290