How do other animals think about the world? Why are their capacities similar to (or different from) our own? We answer these questions by studying the psychology and behavior of semi-free-ranging primate populations.
Evolutionary variation in cognition
Why do some animals solve problems differently from others? A major focus of our research is understanding how variation in cognitive abilities relates to different species’ natural history. This allows us to understand the evolutionary processes shaping cognition in general, as well to reconstruct human cognitive evolution 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.
- Santos, L.R. & Rosati, A.G. (2015). The evolutionary origins of human decision-making. Annual Review of Psychology.
See all publications about evolutionary variation.
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 cognition and behavior. Studies of comparative development are therefore critical to understand human evolution. Our work on chimpanzee aging is funded by the National Institutes on 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.
- 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., 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.
See all publications about development and aging.
Decision-making and cognitive control
Animals face complex foraging problems every day, making trade-offs between rewards and costs, accounting for an unpredictable environment, and flexibly adjusting their behavior. What cognitive skills do primates use to do so, 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.
See all publications about decision-making and cognitive control.
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 also trying to find food. 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 context shapes their decision-making strategies.
- Rosati, A.G., DiNicola, L.M., & Buckholtz, J.W. (2018). Chimpanzee cooperation is fast, and independent from self-control. Psychological Science
- 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 and cooperation.
Spatial memory & navigation
Foraging animals face memory problems that involve remembering the location of valuable food resources, as well as navigating between different locations. How do species with different dietary niches locate spatially dispersed foods, and do humans possess specialied abilities to recall complex spaces?
- Rosati, A.G. (2015). Context influences spatial frames of reference in bonobos (Pan paniscus). Behaviour.
- Rosati, A.G., Rodriguez, K., & Hare, B. (2014). The ecology of spatial memory in four lemur species. Animal Cognition.
- Rosati, A. G., & Hare, B. (2012). Chimpanzees and bonobos exhibit divergent spatial memory development. Developmental Science.
See all publications about spatial memory and navigation.
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 partner with welfare and conservation organizations like the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), and 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.
See all publications about welfare and conservation.