Barbara Smuts

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Barbara Boardman Smuts
Occupation(s)Anthropologist, psychologist
Known forSocial relationships among animals

Barbara Boardman Smuts[1] is an American anthropologist and psychologist noted for her research into baboons, dolphins, and chimpanzees, and a Professor Emeritus at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Smuts received a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Harvard University and a Ph.D in neurological and biological behavioral science from Stanford Medical School.[2] In the 1970s she began studying animal behaviour at the University of Michigan, including research with Jane Goodall on chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, where she had a violent introduction to field research, being among four field researchers kidnapped and beaten by a Marxist revolutionary group.[3]

Personal life and Education[edit]

Smuts was born to Alice Smuts (1921-2020) and Robert ("Bob") Walter Schmutz (later anglicised to Smuts) in 1950. She has a brother, Robert Malcolm Smuts, born 1949. Smuts moved to Michigan with her family in 1960, and in 1969 to Ann Arbor whilst her mother obtained her Ph.D.[1] She has an undergraduate degree from Harvard University in anthropology, and did her Ph.D. with David Hamburg at Stanford University.[4]


Much of Smuts’ research concerns the development of social relationships between animals, particularly among chimpanzee and baboon populations. Smuts began studies of wild baboons in 1976.[5] Studies she made of wild olive baboons in Tanzania and Kenya inspired her 1985 book Sex and Friendship in Baboons. The book, the fruit of two years' research, showed how two different groups of the same primate interact with each other socially. She determined that friendship was a critical predictor of sexual activity between male and female baboons: females preferred to mate with males that had previously engaged in friendly interactions with them and could interact with their other offspring as well.[6]

Smuts also carried out research into bottlenose dolphin social development, working extensively with Janet Mann.[7]

Smuts' more recent research at the University of Michigan has focused on social behavior among dogs.[4][8][9]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Wrangham, R. and Smuts, B. B. (1980). "Sex differences in the behavioural ecology of chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania." Journal of Reproduction and Fertility. Supplement, 28, 13–31.
  • Smuts, B.B. (2009. First printing 1985) Sex and Friendship in Baboons New York: Aldine Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-202-02027-3
  • Smuts, B.B., Cheney, D.L. Seyfarth, R.M., Wrangham, R.W., & Struhsaker, T.T. (Eds.) (1987). Primate Societies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-76715-9
  • Smuts, B. (March 1995). "The evolutionary origins of patriarchy". Human Nature (Hawthorne, N.Y.). 6 (1): 1–32. doi:10.1007/BF02734133. ISSN 1045-6767. PMID 24202828. S2CID 17741169.
  • Smuts, Barbara B.; Smuts, Robert w. (1993), "Male Aggression and Sexual Coercion of Females in Nonhuman Primates and Other Mammals: Evidence and Theoretical Implications", Advances in the Study of Behavior, pp. 1–63, ISBN 9780080582832, retrieved 2021-08-29


  1. ^ a b "Alice Smuts Obituary (1921 - 2020) Ann Arbor News". Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  2. ^ Profile Archived 2009-03-22 at the Wayback Machine at the Council of Human Development
  3. ^ Goodall, Jane (2001). Dale Peterson (ed.). Jane Goodall-Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters, the later years. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 146–147. ISBN 0-618-12520-5. Retrieved 28 April 2010. smuts.
  4. ^ a b "Barbara Smuts". Center for Humans & Nature. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  5. ^ Smuts, B.B. (2009) [First printing 1985]. Sex and Friendship in Baboons. New York: Aldine Publishing Co. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-202-02027-3. Sex and Friendship in Baboons .
  6. ^ Smuts, Barbara B (1985). Sex and Friendship in Baboons. Aldine. ISBN 0-202-02027-4.
  7. ^ Mann, Janet; Barbara Smuts (1999). "Behavioral development in wild bottlenose dolphin newborns (Tursiops sp.)". Behaviour. Netherlands: E J Brill. 136 (5): 529–566. doi:10.1163/156853999501469. ISSN 0005-7959.
  8. ^ Barbara Smuts research profile at
  9. ^ "Barbara Smuts | U-M LSA Department of Psychology". Retrieved 2021-08-29.

External links[edit]