Tracking the evolutionary origins of dog-human cooperation: the "Canine Cooperation Hypothesis"

Range and Viranyi (2015): Tracking the evolutionary origins of dog-human cooperation: the "Canine Cooperation Hypothesis". Frontiers in Psychology, 5 , 1-10.

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At present, beyond the fact that dogs can be easier socialized with humans than wolves, we know little about the motivaitonal and cognitive effects of domestication.

Depsite this, it has been suggested that during domestication dogs have become socially more tolerant and attentive than wolves. These two characteristics are crucial for cooperation, and it has been argued that these changes allowed dogs to successfully live and work with humans.

However, these domestication hypotheses have been put forward mainly based on dog-wolf differences reported in regard to their interactiosn with humans. Thus, it is possible that these differences reflect only an improved capability of dogs to accept humans as social partners in instead of an incraese of their general tolerance, attentiveness and cooperativeness. At the Wolf Science Center, in order to detangle these two explanations, we raise and keep dogs and wolves similarly socializing them with conspecifics.

When investigating attentiveness toward human and conspecific partners using different paradigms, we found that the wolves were at least as attentive as the dogs to their social partners and their actions.

Based on these findings and the social ecology of wolves, we propose the Canine Cooperation Hypothesis suggesting that wolves are characterized with high social attentiveness and tolerance and are highly cooperative.

This is in contrast with the implications of most domestication hypotheses about wolves. We argue, however, that these characteristics of wolve likely provided a good basis for the evolution of dog-human cooperation.