How do other animals think about the world? How are their capacities similar to (or different from) our own? We answer these questions by studying the psychology of semi-free-ranging primate populations living at several different sites across the world.
Evolutionary variation in cognition and behavior
Why do some animals solve problems differently from others? A major focus of our research is understanding how variation in cognitive abilities—including decision-making, memory, and social cognition—relates to different species’ natural history, including ecology and social structure. This allows us to understand the evolutionary processes shaping cognition in general, as well as in the human lineage specifically.
- Rosati, A.G. (2017). Foraging cognition: reviving the ecological intelligence hypothesis. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
- Rosati, A.G. (2017). Chimpanzee cognition and the roots of the human mind. Chimpanzees and Human Evolution.
- Rosati, A.G. (2017). Decisions under uncertainty: Preferences, biases, and choice. APA Handbook of Comparative Psychology.
- Santos, L.R. & Rosati, A.G. (2015). The evolutionary origins of human decision-making. Annual Review of Psychology.
See all publications about evolutionary variation.
Decision-making, executive control, and memory
Animals face complex complex foraging problems every day: they must remember the location of valuable resources such as food or mates, make trade-offs between potential payoffs and temporal and energetic costs, and deal with an unpredictable changes. What cognitive skills do different species use to deal with their ecological world, and have humans evolved unique abilities for decision-making and self-control?
- Rosati, A.G., & Santos, L.R (2016). Spontaneous metacognition in rhesus monkeys. Psychological Science.
- Rosati, A.G. & Hare, B. (2016). Reward type modulates human risk preferences. Evolution and Human Behavior.
- Warneken, F. & Rosati, A.G. (2015). Cognitive capacities for cooking in chimpanzees. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
- Rosati, A.G., Rodriguez, K., & Hare, B. (2014). The ecology of spatial memory in four lemur species. Animal Cognition.
See all publications about decision-making and executive control.
See all publications about memory.
Social cognition and cooperation
For gregarious species like most primates, social interactions with conspecifics can influence all aspects of daily life. For example, foraging requires competing (or cooperating) with others who are trying to solve the same sorts of problems. This component of our research focuses on the psychological skills that primates use to think about and predict others’ behavior, as well as how social interactions shape their decision-making and foraging strategies.
- Rosati, A.G., DiNicola, L., & Buckholtz, J.W. (in press). Chimpanzee cooperation is fast, and independent from self-control. Psychological Science.
- Rosati, A.G., Arre, A.M, Platt, M.L., & Santos, L.R. (2016). Rhesus monkeys show human-like changes in gaze following across the lifespan. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
- Leimgruber, K.L., Rosati, A.G., & Santos, L.R. (2016). Capuchins punish those who have more. Evolution and Human Behavior.
- Rosati, A.G. & Hare, B. (2012). Decision-making across social contexts: competition increases preferences for risk in chimpanzees and bonobos. Animal Behaviour.
See all publications about social cognition.
Comparative development and aging
Humans exhibit distinct life-history patterns compared to other primates–including an extended juvenile period and long total lifespan–and these developmental shifts may be important for the emergence of human-unique cognition. Studies of development and aging in other species are therefore critical to understand human evolution. Our work on chimpanzee aging is funded by the National Institutes of Aging.
- Rosati, A.G., Arre, A.M., Platt, M.L., & Santos, L.R. (2018). Developmental shifts in social cognition: socioemotional biases across the lifespan in rhesus monkeys. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 72: 63
- Rosati, A.G. & Santos, L.R. (2017). Tolerant Barbary macaques maintain juvenile levels of social attention into old age, but despotic rhesus macaques do not. Animal Behaviour.
- Rosati, A.G., Wobber, V., Hughes, K., & Santos, L.R. (2014). Comparative developmental psychology: How is human cognitive development unique? Evolutionary Psychology.
- Rosati, A. G., & Hare, B. (2012). Chimpanzees and bonobos exhibit divergent spatial memory development. Developmental Science.
See all publications about development and aging.
Primate welfare and conservation
All species of nonhuman great apes are endangered due to habitat loss, human encroachment, and the bushmeat and pet trades. We conduct research on how the public perceives the conservation status of primates, as well as how to best promote primate well-being across contexts.
- Stokes, R., Tully, G., & Rosati, A.G. (2018). Pan African Sanctuary Alliance: Securing a future for the African great apes. International Zoo Yearbook.
- Stokes, R., Tully, G., & Rosati, A.G. (2017). Pan African Sanctuary Alliance: Primate welfare, conservation, and research. African Primates.
- Rosati, A. G., Herrmann, E., Kaminski, J., Krupenye, C., Melis, A. P., Schroepfer, K., Tan, J., et al. (2013). Assessing the psychological health of captive and wild apes: A response to Ferdowsian et al. (2011). Journal of Comparative Psychology.
- Schroepfer, K. K., Rosati, A. G., Chartrand, T., & Hare, B. (2011). Use of “entertainment” chimpanzees in commercials distorts public perception regarding their conservation status. PLoS One.
See all publications about welfare and conservation.