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Sean_W's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Sean_W


I haven't read this, just the abstract, but it sounds like what you would be looking for: Tactical Deception in Primates.

I saw their research cited in The Philosopher and the Wolf by Mark Rowlands. Here is a relevant passage from pages 69-70 of that book.

A troop of baboons is travelling along a narrow trail. One baboon, female S, spots a nearly obscured clump of Loranthus - a vine that is highly prized by the baboon palate - in one of the trees. Without looking at the others, S sits down at the side of the trail and begins intently self-grooming. The others pass her by and, when they are out of sight, she leaps up into the tree and eats the vine. This is the baboon equivalent of pretending you have to tie your shoelace when you have, in fact, spotted a twenty-pound note lying on the ground.

Here is the abstract from the paper cited above:


Tactical deception occurs when an individual is able to use an “honest” act from his normal repertoire in a different context to mislead familiar individuals. Although primates have a reputation for social skill, most primate groups are so intimate that any deception is likely to be subtle and infrequent. Published records are sparse and often anecdotal. We have solicited new records from many primatologists and searched for repeating patterns. This has revealed several different forms of deceptive tactic, which we classify in terms of the function they perform. For each class, we sketch the features of another individual's state of mind that an individual acting with deceptive intent must be able to represent, thus acting as a “natural psychologist.” Our analysis will sharpen attention to apparent taxonomic differences. Before these findings can be generalized, however, behavioral scientists must agree on some fundamental methodological and theoretical questions in the study of the evolution of social cognition.

Tue, 15 May 2012 14:32:33 UTC | #941604