Judith M. Burkart

Judith M. Burkart
University of Zurich | UZH · Institut für Anthropologie und Anthropologisches Museum

Professor

About

155
Publications
36,653
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4,924
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2009 - present
University of Zurich
Position
  • Group Leader

Publications

Publications (155)
Article
To understand the primate origins of the human interaction engine, it is worthwhile to focus not only on great apes but also on callitrichid monkeys (marmosets and tamarins). Like humans, but unlike great apes, callitrichids are cooperative breeders, and thus habitually engage in coordinated joint actions, for instance when an infant is handed over...
Article
Full-text available
Behavioral coordination is involved in many forms of primate interactions. Co-representation is the simultaneous mental representation of one’s own and the partner’s task and actions. It often underlies behavioral coordination and cooperation success. In humans, the dyadic social context can modulate co-representation. Here, we first investigated w...
Article
Human joint action is generally facilitated by the tendency to represent not only one's own task and behavior but also the partner's. Yet, under some conditions, such as in the joint Simon task, corepresentation can cause interference and hampers, rather than facilitates, joint performance. A competent cooperator should thus also be able to flexibl...
Article
Full-text available
The average mammal or bird has a roughly ten times larger brain relative to body size than the average ectotherm vertebrate. It has been surprisingly challenging to determine how this translates into increased cognitive performance. In particular, it is unclear whether the brain size differences translate into qualitative differences in specific co...
Article
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Life history theory predicts a trade-off between the quantity and quality of offspring. Short interbirth intervals – the time between successive births – may increase the quantity of offspring but harm offspring quality. In contrast, long interbirth intervals may bolster offspring quality while reducing overall reproductive output. Further research...
Chapter
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According to the Cooperative Breeding Hypothesis, slow-maturing apes with the life history attributes of those in the line leading to the genus Homo could not have evolved unless male and female allomothers had begun to help mothers care for and provision offspring. The unusual way hominins reared their young generated novel phenotypes subsequently...
Article
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Consolation has been observed in several species, including marmoset monkeys, but it is often unclear to what extent they are empathy-based. Marmosets perform well in at least two of three components of empathy-based consolation, namely understanding others and prosociality, but it is unknown to what extent they show matching with others. We, there...
Article
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Recent studies find increasing evidence for vocal accommodation in nonhuman primates, indicating that this form of vocal learning is more prevalent than previously thought. Convergent vocal accommodation (i.e. becoming more similar to partners) indicates social closeness. At the same time, however, becoming too similar may compromise individual rec...
Preprint
Full-text available
Primate gaze following behaviors are of great interest to evolutionary scientists studying social cognition. The ability of an organism to determine a conspecifics likely intentions from their gaze direction may confer an advantage to individuals in a social group. This advantage could be cooperative and/or competitive. Humans are unusual in posses...
Article
The reproductive costs of cooperatively breeding callitrichid mothers are remarkable, and they have to rely on fathers and other group members to raise their offspring. Consequently, maternal responsiveness to and investment in infants tends to be conditional, and especially sensitive to infant cues and signals of vigour. Since fathers do not bear...
Article
Full-text available
Rawski et al. revisit our recent findings suggesting the latent ability to process nonadjacent dependencies ("Non-ADs") in monkeys and apes. Specifically, the authors question the relevance of our findings for the evolution of human syntax. We argue that (i) these conclusions hinge upon an assumption that language processing is necessarily hierarch...
Article
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-020-00196-x
Article
Social primates constantly face situations in which their preferences collide and they need to engineer strategies to overcome conflicts of interest. Studies with chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, have found that they use competitive strategies to overcome social dilemmas, maximizing their own benefits while minimizing the loss of rewards. However, lit...
Article
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What information animals derive from eavesdropping on interactions between conspecifics, and whether they assign value to it, is difficult to assess because overt behavioral reactions are often lacking. An inside perspective of how observers perceive and process such interactions is thus paramount. Here, we investigate what happens in the mind of m...
Article
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Intentional signalling plays a fundamental role in human communication. Mapping the taxonomic distribution of comparable capacities may thus shed light on the selective pressures that enabled the evolution of human communication. Nonetheless, severe methodological issues undermine comparisons among studies, species and communicative modalities. Her...
Article
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Social tolerance in a group reflects the balance between within-group competition and interdependence: whereas increased competition leads to a reduction in social tolerance, increased interdependence increases it. Captivity reduces both feeding competition and interdependence and can therefore affect social tolerance. In independently breeding pri...
Preprint
Full-text available
Differences in human general intelligence or reasoning ability can be quantified with the psychometric factor g, because individual performance across cognitive tasks is positively correlated. g also emerges in mammals and birds, is correlated with brain size and may similarly reflect general reasoning ability and behavioural flexibility in these s...
Article
Unusually short or long interbirth intervals (IBIs) are associated with increased risks of infant mortality in humans. However, further research is needed to determine the extent to which this relationship holds more broadly among primates. Using Cox proportional hazards models, we examined the effects of atypical IBI on infant survivorship using a...
Article
Full-text available
Most cultural behaviours in primates stem from innovations that are beneficial since they provide access to food or comfort. Innovations that are seemingly purposeless and arbitrary, and nevertheless spread through a social group, are rarer but particularly relevant to understanding the evolutionary origin of culture. Here, we provide an anecdotal...
Article
Full-text available
The ability to track syntactic relationships between words, particularly over distances ("nonadjacent dependencies"), is a critical faculty underpinning human language, although its evolutionary origins remain poorly understood. While some monkey species are reported to process auditory nonadjacent dependencies, comparative data from apes are missi...
Article
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Comparative psychology assesses cognitive abilities and capacities of non-human animals and humans. Based on performance differences and similarities in various species in cognitive tests, it is inferred how their minds work and reconstructed how cognition might have evolved. Critically, such species comparisons are only valid and meaningful if the...
Article
Full-text available
According to the Cooperative Breeding Hypothesis, apes with the life-history attributes of those in the line leading to the genus Homo could not have evolved unless male and female allomothers had begun to help mothers care for and provision offspring. As proposed elsewhere, the unusual way hominins reared their young generated novel phenotypes sub...
Book
Full-text available
Dieses Themenheft unserer Sitzungsberichte ist das Ergebnis der Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin Anfang Juni 2016. Der Bogen spannt sich von der Phylogenie und Genetik bis zu einem spezifischen Parasiten als Teil unserer Umwelt. Doch liegt der Schwerpunkt in der Auseinandersetzung mit den Fragen danach, was uns zum M...
Article
Full-text available
Marmoset monkeys show high levels of proactive prosociality, a trait shared with humans, presumably because both species rely on allomaternal care. However, it is not clear whether the proximate regulation of this convergent trait is also similar, in particular with regard to intentionality, which is a defining characteristic of prosocial behavior...
Chapter
Vorrede | In diesem charakteristischerweise hervorragend recherchierten Beitrag erörtern Kappeler und Fichtel die Konsequenzen sozialer und einkommensbedingter Ungleichheit für die individuelle Gesundheit und die empfundene Einsamkeit aus einer evolutionären Perspektive. Das zentrale Argument der Autoren ist, dass sich die modernen Großgesellschaft...
Article
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The acoustic properties of vocalizations in common marmosets differ between populations. These differences may be the result of social vocal learning, but they can also result from environmental or genetic differences between populations. We performed translocation experiments to separately quantify the influence of a change in the physical environ...
Article
Measuring body surface temperature changes with infrared thermography has recently been put forward as a non-invasive alternative measure of physiological correlates of emotional reactions. In particular, the nasal region seems to be highly sensitive to emotional reactions. Several studies suggest that nasal temperature is negatively correlated wit...
Article
In many birds and mammals, the size and sex composition of litters can have important downstream effects for individual offspring. Primates are model organisms for questions of cooperation and conflict, but the factors shaping interactions among same-age siblings have been less-studied in primates because most species bear single young. However, ca...
Preprint
Full-text available
In many birds and mammals, the size and sex composition of litters can have important downstream effects for individual offspring. Primates are model organisms for questions of cooperation and conflict, but the factors shaping interactions among same-age siblings have been less-studied in primates because most species bear single young. However, ca...
Chapter
Normative behavior is a human universal that is intimately linked to morality. Morality is an adaptation to the specifically human subsistence niche of hunting and gathering, which is skill-intensive and therefore relies on transmission of opaque knowledge and involves critical interdependence, reliance on coordinated division of labor, and synchro...
Article
Animal personality, consistent interindividual differences in behavior through time, has been intensively studied across animal taxa and particularly in nonhuman primates. Two different methods have been used to study personality: questionnaires filled out by trusted raters, following the research tradition in human personality psychology, and beha...
Article
Full-text available
The expensive brain hypothesis predicts that the lowest stable level of energy input sets the upper limit to a species’ brain size. This prediction receives comparative support from the effects of experienced seasonality (including hibernation) and diet quality on mammalian brain size. Here, we test another prediction, which concerns the temporal s...
Article
Full-text available
Food sharing (FS) in cooperatively breeding callitrichids is unusual among nonhuman primates because they regularly share significant amounts of preferred food with immatures and engage in proactive FS. However, it is still unclear which classes of individuals (males or females, breeders or helpers) engage most in FS, and whether differences exist...
Article
Full-text available
Dropouts are a common issue in cognitive tests with non-human primates. One main reason for dropouts is that researchers often face a trade-off between obtaining a sufficiently large sample size and logistic restrictions, such as limited access to testing facilities. The commonly-used opportunistic testing approach deals with this trade-off by only...
Data
The subjects’ performance in the two versions of Memory task 1 depending on how much testing time they needed to complete the task. The dotted line represents the expected amount of time (number of testing days) after which testing would have been discontinued and subjects who needed longer would have been excluded had we used the classical opportu...
Data
Number of test sessions to criterion in the 3 phases of the Reversal Learning task. Fewer (12-trial) sessions indicate better performance, hence the negative prefix on the y-axis. Phase 1—learning of the initial association between a pattern and a reward. Phase 2—strengthening of the learned association. Phase 3—reversal of the learned association....
Data
Materials & measurements for the tasks of the cognitive test battery. Each test apparatus was placed on a wooden board (varying size and features) that was mounted on a height-adjustable test table and flush with the test compartment’s window. Depending on the cognitive task, the Perspex window front used for the marmosets contained one or two open...
Data
Performance in the 5 test sessions of the Detour-Reaching task. Successful detour-reaching in the inhibition trials at (a) first attempt and (b) after initial failure to reach around the transparent barrier. Marmosets (grey solid bars)/squirrel monkeys (yellow dotted bars). (PDF)
Article
For over a century, theories of human intelligence have concentrated on a single general factor, the psychometric g, which is used to estimate reasoning ability and cognitive flexibility, i.e. general intelligence. To better understand the evolution of general intelligence, it is important to identify the presence of a psychometric g in nonhuman an...
Article
Full-text available
We present a new road map for research on “How the Brain Got Language” that adopts an EvoDevoSocio perspective and highlights comparative neuroprimatology – the comparative study of brain, behavior and communication in extant monkeys and great apes – as providing a key grounding for hypotheses on the last common ancestor of humans and monkeys (LCA-...
Article
Language is a cognitively demanding human trait, but it is also a fundamentally cooperative enterprise that rests on the motivation to share information. Great apes possess many of the cognitive prerequisites for language, but largely lack the motivation to share information. Callitrichids (including marmosets and tamarins) are highly vocal monkeys...
Article
We welcome Tomasello’s new book on the natural history of human morality as an important confirmation of the evolutionary approach, which sees adaptive behaviors and their psychological underpinnings as linked to a species’ socioecology (the package of subsistence, social, mating, and rearing systems). This perspective automatically leads to the co...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this contribution is to explore the origins of moral behavior and its underlying moral preferences and intuitions from an evolutionary perspective. Such a perspective encompasses both the ultimate, adaptive function of morality in our own species, as well as the phylogenetic distribution of morality and its key elements across primates....
Article
Cooperatively breeding common marmosets raise their infants with the help of other adult group members, but individual care-taking contribution can vary considerably. We tested four hypotheses that may explain this variation within marmoset family groups. The pay-for-help hypothesis argues that allogrooming is used strategically by parents to pay h...
Article
Behavioral coordination is a fundamental element of human cooperation. It is facilitated when individuals represent not only their own actions but also those of their partner. Identifying whether action corepresentation is unique to humans or also present in other species is therefore necessary to fully understand the evolution of human cooperation...
Article
Full-text available
Cooperatively breeding common marmosets show substantial variation in the amount of help they provide. Pay-to-stay and social prestige models of helping attribute this variation to audience effects, i.e. that individuals help more if group members can witness their interactions with immatures, whereas models of kin selection, group augmentation or...
Article
Language is a cognitively demanding human trait, but it is also a fundamentally cooperative enterprise that rests on the motivation to share information. Great apes possess many of the cognitive prerequisites for language, but largely lack the motivation to share information. Callitrichids (including marmosets and tamarins) are highly vocal monkeys...
Article
Full-text available
Humans engage in cooperative childcare, which includes some elements not found in other animals, such as the presence of post-reproductive helpers, extensive food sharing among adults and a pervasive sexual division of labour. In animals, cooperative offspring care has typically been studied in two different contexts. The first mainly involves help...
Article
The study of non-human animals, in particular primates, can provide essential insights into language evolution. A critical element of language is vocal production learning, i.e. learning how to produce calls. In contrast to other lineages such as songbirds, vocal production learning of completely new signals is strikingly rare in non-human primates...
Article
Increasing evidence suggests that personality structure differs between species, but the evolutionary reasons for this variation are not fully understood. We built on earlier research on New World monkeys to further elucidate the evolution of personality structure in primates. We therefore examined personality in 100 family-reared adult common marm...
Article
Full-text available
The vocal repertoires of nonhuman primates have long been thought to be invariable across populations and not to result from vocal learning. However, increasing evidence suggests that learning does influence vocal production in nonhuman primates, and that several species modify the structure of their calls in response to social or environmental inf...
Conference Paper
Studying the ontogeny of complex food manipulations in primates facilitates our understanding of phenotypic plasticity and cognitive abilities in primates as well as the emergence of tool use in humans. Here, we assess whether the interspecific order of the complexity scale assigned in a previous study of adults in 37 primate species matches the or...
Article
Cooperatively breeding, group-living common marmosets show differentiated relationships, where more strongly bonded dyads within a group engage more in affiliative interactions than less strongly bonded ones. Intriguingly, recent results suggest that strong bonds do not only occur between breeding partners but between individuals from any sex or st...
Article
Full-text available
Non-human animals sometimes show marked intraspecific variation in their cognitive abilities that may reflect variation in external inputs and experience during the developmental period. We examined variation in exploration and cognitive performance on a problem-solving task in a large sample of captive orang-utans (Pongo abelii & P. pygmaeus, N =...
Article
Classical ethology and behavioral ecology did not pay much attention to learning. However, studies of social learning in nature reviewed here reveal the near-ubiquity of reliance on social information for skill acquisition by developing birds and mammals. This conclusion strengthens the plausibility of the cultural intelligence hypothesis for the e...
Article
The goal of our target article was to lay out current evidence relevant to the question of whether general intelligence can be found in nonhuman animals in order to better understand its evolution in humans. The topic is a controversial one, as evident from the broad range of partly incompatible comments it has elicited. The main goal of our respon...
Article
In cognitive tests, animals are often given a choice between two options and obtain a reward if they choose correctly. We investigated whether task format affects subjects' performance in a physical cognition test. In experiment 1, a two-choice memory test, 15 marmosets, Callithrix jacchus, had to remember the location of a food reward over time de...
Article
Full-text available
Language's intentional nature has been highlighted as a crucial feature distinguishing it from other communication systems. Specifically, language is often thought to depend on highly structured intentional action and mutual mindreading by a communicator and recipient. Whilst similar abilities in animals can shed light on the evolution of intention...
Article
Full-text available
The presence of general intelligence poses a major evolutionary puzzle, which has led to increased interest in its presence in nonhuman animals. The aim of this review is to critically evaluate this puzzle, and to explore the implications for current theories about the evolution of cognition. We first review domain-general and domain-specific accou...
Article
Full-text available
Humans occupy by far the most complex foraging niche of all mammals, built around sophisticated technology, and at the same time exhibit unusually large brains. To examine the evolutionary processes underlying these features, we investigated how manipulation complexity is related to brain size, cognitive test performance, terrestriality, and diet q...
Article
Full-text available
Young orangutans are highly neophobic, avoid independent exploration and show a preference for social learning. Accordingly, they acquire virtually all their learned skills through exploration that is socially induced. Adult exploration rates are also low. Comparisons strongly suggest that major innovations, i.e. behaviours that have originally bee...
Article
The cultural group selection (CGS) approach provides a compelling explanation for recent changes in human societies, but has trouble explaining why our ancestors, rather than any other great ape, evolved into a hyper-cooperative niche. The cooperative breeding hypothesis can plug this gap and thus complement CGS, because recent comparative evidence...
Article
The neurohormone oxytocin (OT) is positively involved in the regulation of parenting and social bonding in mammals, and may thus also be important for the mediation of alloparental care. In cooperatively breeding marmosets, infants are raised in teamwork by parents and adult and sub-adult non-reproductive helpers (usually older siblings). Despite h...