You are here: Home Publications Neighbouring chimpanzee communities show different preferences in social grooming behaviour

Neighbouring chimpanzee communities show different preferences in social grooming behaviour

Van Leeuwen, E. J. C., Cronin, K. A., Haun, D. B. M., Mundry, R., & Bodamer, M. D. (2012). Neighbouring chimpanzee communities show different preferences in social grooming behaviour. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279, 4362-4367. doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.1543.
Grooming handclasp (GHC) behaviour was originally advocated as the first evidence of social culture in chimpanzees owing to the finding that some populations engaged in the behaviour and others do not. To date, however, the validity of this claim and the extent to which this social behaviour varies between groups is unclear. Here, we measured (i) variation, (ii) durability and (iii) expansion of the GHC behaviour in four chimpanzee communities that do not systematically differ in their genetic backgrounds and live in similar ecological environments. Ninety chimpanzees were studied for a total of 1029 h; 1394 GHC bouts were observed between 2010 and 2012. Critically, GHC style (defined by points of bodily contact) could be systematically linked to the chimpanzee’s group identity, showed temporal consistency both withinand between-groups, and could not be accounted for by the arm-length differential between partners. GHC has been part of the behavioural repertoire of the chimpanzees under study for more than 9 years (surpassing durability criterion) and spread across generations (surpassing expansion criterion). These results strongly indicate that chimpanzees’ social behaviour is not only motivated by innate predispositions and individual inclinations, but may also be partly cultural in nature.
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213

Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn