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Photo taken by Catherine Marin, de Waal's wife.

Frans B.M. de Waal, PhD (born 29 October 1948, 's-Hertogenbosch), is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist. He is the Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behavior in the Emory University psychology department in Atlanta, Georgia, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center[1] and author of numerous books including Chimpanzee Politics and Our Inner Ape. His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food-sharing. He is a Member of the (US) National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.

Contents

Education

De Waal studied at the Dutch universities of Nijmegen, Groningen, and Utrecht. In 1977, De Waal received his doctorate in biology from Utrecht University after training as a zoologist and ethologist. His dissertation research concerned aggressive behavior and alliance formation in macaques.

Career

In 1975, De Waal began a six-year project on the world's largest captive colony of chimpanzees at the Arnhem Zoo. The study resulted in many scientific papers, and resulted in publication of his first book, Chimpanzee Politics, in 1982.

In 1981, he moved to the United States for a position at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, and took his current position at Emory and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in 1991.

His research into the innate capacity for empathy among primates has led De Waal to the conclusion that non-human great apes and humans are simply different types of apes, and that empathic and cooperative tendencies are continuous between these species. This is quite opposite to the view of some economists and anthropologists, but recent experiments on prosocial tendencies in apes and monkeys support de Waal's position.

His book Our Inner Ape examines human behavior through the eyes of a primatologist, using the behavior of common chimpanzees and bonobos as metaphors for human psychology. He also writes a column for Psychologie, a popular Dutch monthly magazine.

The contributions of de Waal to primatology started with Chimpanzee Politics (1982), which offered the first description of primate behavior explicitly in terms of planned social strategies, thus introducing Machiavelli to primatology, leading to the label "Machiavellian Intelligence" that later became associated with it. In his writings, de Waal has never shied away from attributing emotions and intentions to his primates, and as such his work inspired the field of primate cognition that, three decades later, flourishes around themes of cooperation, altruism, and fairness. His early work also drew attention to deception and conflict resolution, nowadays two major areas of research. Initially, all of this was highly controversial. Thus, the label of "reconciliation" which de Waal introduced for reunions after fights was questioned at first, but is now fully accepted with respect to animal behavior. Recently, de Waal's work has emphasized animal empathy and even the origins of morality. His most widely cited scientific paper, written with his former student Stephanie Preston, concerns the evolutionary origin and neuroscience of empathy. De Waal's name is, of course, also associated with the Bonobo, the "make love - not war" primate that he has made popular. But even his Bonobo studies are secondary to the larger goal of understanding what binds primate societies together rather than how competition structures them, even though the latter is never ignored in his work (the original focus of de Waal's research, before he was well known, was aggressive behavior and social dominance). Whereas his science focuses on the behavior of nonhuman primates (mostly chimpanzees, bonobos, macaques, and capuchin monkeys), his popular books have given de Waal worldwide visibility by relating the insights he has gained from monkey and ape behavior to human society. De Waal strongly believes in mental continuity between humans and their fellow primates, as in the following quote from The Age of Empathy:

“We start out postulating sharp boundaries, such as between humans and apes, or between apes and monkeys, but are in fact dealing with sand castles that lose much of their structure when the sea of knowledge washes over them. They turn into hills, leveled ever more, until we are back to where evolutionary theory always leads us: a gently sloping beach.”

Quotes

"The possibility that empathy resides in parts of the brain so ancient that we share them with rats should give pause to anyone comparing politicians with those poor, underestimated creatures."[2]

"I've argued that many of what philosophers call moral sentiments can be seen in other species. In chimpanzees and other animals, you see examples of sympathy, empathy, reciprocity, a willingness to follow social rules. Dogs are a good example of a species that have and obey social rules; that's why we like them so much, even though they're large carnivores."[3]

"To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us."[4]

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Awards

  • 2009 Medal, Società di Medicina & Scienze Naturali, Parma (Italy)
  • 2009 Medal, Ariëns Kappers (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience)
  • 2009 Doctor Honoris Causa, University for Humanistics (Netherlands)
  • 2008 Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • 2007 Time Magazine 100 World’s Most Influential People Today
  • 2005 Member of the American Philosophical Society
  • 2005 Arthur W. Staats Award, American Psychological Foundation
  • 2004 Member of the (US) National Academy of Sciences
  • 1993 Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences
  • 1989 Los Angeles Times Book Award for "Peacemaking among Primates"

Selected bibliography

Books

Articles

See also

References

  1. ^ Andrea Thompson (2007-08-09). "How did we go from ape to airplane? Scientists turn to chimpanzees to solve the mystery of our cultural roots". MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20198285/. Retrieved 2007-08-20.  
  2. ^ Frans de Waal (2001-10-26). "Do Humans Alone 'Feel Your Pain'?". The Chronicle. http://chronicle.com/free/v48/i09/09b00701.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-20.  
  3. ^ Natalie Angier (2001-01-14). "Confessions of a Lonely Atheist". The New York Times Magazine. http://partners.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20010114mag-atheism.html. Retrieved 2008-07-20.  
  4. ^ Frans de Waal (1997-07). "Are We in Anthropodenial?". Discover. pp. 50–53.

External links


Frans B.M. de Waal, PhD (born 29 October 1948, 's-Hertogenbosch), is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist. He is the Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behavior in the Emory University psychology department in Atlanta, Georgia, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center[1] and author of numerous books including Chimpanzee Politics and Our Inner Ape. His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food-sharing. He is a Member of the (US) National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.

Contents

Education

De Waal studied at the Dutch universities of Nijmegen, Groningen, and Utrecht. In 1977, De Waal received his doctorate in biology from Utrecht University after training as a zoologist and ethologist. His dissertation research concerned aggressive behavior and alliance formation in macaques.

Career

In 1975, De Waal began a six-year project on the world's largest captive colony of chimpanzees at the Arnhem Zoo. The study resulted in many scientific papers, and resulted in publication of his first book, Chimpanzee Politics, in 1982.

In 1981, he moved to the United States for a position at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, and took his current position at Emory and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in 1991.

His research into the innate capacity for empathy among primates has led De Waal to the conclusion that non-human great apes and humans are simply different types of apes, and that empathic and cooperative tendencies are continuous between these species. This is quite opposite to the view of some economists and anthropologists, but recent experiments on prosocial tendencies in apes and monkeys support de Waal's position.

His book Our Inner Ape examines human behavior through the eyes of a primatologist, using the behavior of common chimpanzees and bonobos as metaphors for human psychology. He also writes a column for Psychologie, a popular Dutch monthly magazine.

The contributions of de Waal to primatology started with Chimpanzee Politics (1982), which offered the first description of primate behavior explicitly in terms of planned social strategies, thus introducing Machiavelli to primatology, leading to the label "Machiavellian Intelligence" that later became associated with it. In his writings, de Waal has never shied away from attributing emotions and intentions to his primates, and as such his work inspired the field of primate cognition that, three decades later, flourishes around themes of cooperation, altruism, and fairness. His early work also drew attention to deception and conflict resolution, nowadays two major areas of research. Initially, all of this was highly controversial. Thus, the label of "reconciliation" which de Waal introduced for reunions after fights was questioned at first, but is now fully accepted with respect to animal behavior. Recently, de Waal's work has emphasized animal empathy and even the origins of morality. His most widely cited scientific paper, written with his former student Stephanie Preston, concerns the evolutionary origin and neuroscience of empathy. De Waal's name is, of course, also associated with the Bonobo, the "make love - not war" primate that he has made popular. But even his Bonobo studies are secondary to the larger goal of understanding what binds primate societies together rather than how competition structures them, even though the latter is never ignored in his work (the original focus of de Waal's research, before he was well known, was aggressive behavior and social dominance). Whereas his science focuses on the behavior of nonhuman primates (mostly chimpanzees, bonobos, macaques, and capuchin monkeys), his popular books have given de Waal worldwide visibility by relating the insights he has gained from monkey and ape behavior to human society. De Waal strongly believes in mental continuity between humans and their fellow primates, as in the following quote from The Age of Empathy:

“We start out postulating sharp boundaries, such as between humans and apes, or between apes and monkeys, but are in fact dealing with sand castles that lose much of their structure when the sea of knowledge washes over them. They turn into hills, leveled ever more, until we are back to where evolutionary theory always leads us: a gently sloping beach.”

Quotes

"The possibility that empathy resides in parts of the brain so ancient that we share them with rats should give pause to anyone comparing politicians with those poor, underestimated creatures."[2]

"I've argued that many of what philosophers call moral sentiments can be seen in other species. In chimpanzees and other animals, you see examples of sympathy, empathy, reciprocity, a willingness to follow social rules. Dogs are a good example of a species that have and obey social rules; that's why we like them so much, even though they're large carnivores."[3]

"To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us."[4]

Awards

  • 2010 Order of the Netherlands' Lion (knighted).
  • 2009 Medal, Società di Medicina & Scienze Naturali, Parma (Italy)
  • 2009 Medal, Ariëns Kappers (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience)
  • 2009 Doctor Honoris Causa, University for Humanistics (Netherlands)
  • 2008 Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • 2007 Time Magazine 100 World’s Most Influential People Today
  • 2005 Member of the American Philosophical Society
  • 2005 Arthur W. Staats Award, American Psychological Foundation
  • 2004 Member of the (US) National Academy of Sciences
  • 1993 Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences
  • 1989 Los Angeles Times Book Award for "Peacemaking among Primates"

Selected bibliography

Books

Articles

See also

References

  1. ^ Andrea Thompson (2007-08-09). "How did we go from ape to airplane? Scientists turn to chimpanzees to solve the mystery of our cultural roots". MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20198285/. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  2. ^ Frans de Waal (2001-10-26). "Do Humans Alone 'Feel Your Pain'?". The Chronicle. http://chronicle.com/free/v48/i09/09b00701.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  3. ^ Natalie Angier (2001-01-14). "Confessions of a Lonely Atheist". The New York Times Magazine. http://partners.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20010114mag-atheism.html. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  4. ^ Frans de Waal (1997-07). "Are We in Anthropodenial?". Discover. pp. 50–53.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Frans B.M. de Waal, PhD (born 29 October 1948, 's-Hertogenbosch) is a Dutch psychologist, primatologist and ethologist.

Sourced

  • The possibility that empathy resides in parts of the brain so ancient that we share them with rats should give pause to anyone comparing politicians with those poor, underestimated creatures.
  • I've argued that many of what philosophers call moral sentiments can be seen in other species. In chimpanzees and other animals, you see examples of sympathy, empathy, reciprocity, a willingness to follow social rules. Dogs are a good example of a species that have and obey social rules; that's why we like them so much, even though they're large carnivores.
  • To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us.
    • from "Are We in Anthropodenial?"
  • In 1879, American economist Francis Walker tried to explain why members of his profession were in such "bad odor amongst real people". He blamed it on their inability to understand why human behavior fails to comply with economic theory. We do not always act the way economists think we should, mainly because we're both less selfish and less rational than economists think we are. Economists are being indoctrinated into a cardboard version of human nature, which they hold true to such a degree that their own behavior has begun to resemble it. Psychological tests have shown that economics majors are more egoistic than the average college student. Exposure in class after class to the capitalist self-interest model apparently kills off whatever prosocial tendencies these students have to begin with. They give up trusting others, and conversely others give up trusting them. Hence the bad odor.
    • from "Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are", page 243
  • Don’t believe anyone who says that since nature is based on a struggle for life, we need to live like this as well. Many animals survive not by eliminating each other or by keeping everything for themselves, but by cooperating and sharing. This applies most definitely to pack hunters, such as wolves or killer whales, but also our closest relatives, the primates. In a study in Taï National Park, in Ivory Coast, chimpanzees took care of group mates wounded by leopards, licking their blood, carefully removing dirt, and waving away flies that came near the wounds. They protected injured companions, and slowed down during travel in order to accommodate them. All of this makes perfect sense given that chimpanzees live in groups for a reason, the same way wolves and humans are group animals for a reason. If man is wolf to man, he is so in every sense, not just the negative one. We would not be where we are today had our ancestors been socially aloof. What we need is a complete overhaul of assumptions about human nature. Too many economists and politicians model human society on the perpetual struggle they believe exists in nature, but which is a mere projection. Like magicians, they first throw their ideological prejudices into the hat of nature, then pull them out by their very ears to show how much nature agrees with them. It’s a trick for which we have fallen for too long. Obviously, competition is part of the picture, but humans can’t live by competition alone.
    • from "The Age of Empathy" (2009), page 6

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