COMPARING chimpanzee and human development is like comparing a child brought up in a loving family to one brought up in a Romanian orphanage, says a University of Portsmouth researcher.
Professor Kim Bard, from the university’s Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology and Dr David Leavens of the University of Sussex, are calling for a fairer design for studies comparing humans and chimpanzees that takes upbringing into account.
They also say some previous studies may need to be re-examined.
Prof Bard said: ‘Ignoring development is a real problem because primates and their social cognition develop as a result of their social and emotional experiences.
‘We really don’t know very much about what chimpanzees are capable of, since many of the recent studies have used institutionally-reared apes, who certainly are not the best representatives of the species.’
The cognitive development of all great apes, including humans, is highly influenced by upbringing, according to the researchers.
The report is published in The Annual Review of Anthropology.