Frans de Waal

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Frans de Waal
De Waal in 2006
Born
Franciscus Bernardus Maria de Waal

(1948-10-29)29 October 1948
Died14 March 2024(2024-03-14) (aged 75)
Scientific career
FieldsPrimatology, ethology
InstitutionsEmory University
Doctoral advisorJan van Hooff
Doctoral studentsJessica Flack

Franciscus Bernardus Maria de Waal (29 October 1948 – 14 March 2024) was a Dutch-American primatologist and ethologist. He was the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Department of Psychology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory,[1] and author of numerous books including Chimpanzee Politics (1982) and Our Inner Ape (2005). His research centered on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food-sharing. He was a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Early life and education[edit]

De Waal was born in 's-Hertogenbosch on 29 October 1948,[2] to Jo and Cis de Waal. He grew up with five brothers in Waalwijk.[3]

He studied at Radboud University Nijmegen, University of Groningen, and Utrecht University in the Netherlands. In 1977, De Waal received his doctorate in biology from Utrecht University after training as a zoologist and ethologist with professor Jan van Hooff, a well-known expert of emotional facial expression in primates. His dissertation, titled "Agonistic interactions and relations among Java-monkeys", concerned aggressive behavior and alliance formation in macaques.[2][4] Fellow Dutch ethologist Niko Tinbergen was an inspiration to de Waal.[5]

Career[edit]

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 the publication of his first book, Chimpanzee Politics, in 1982. This book offered the first description of primate behavior explicitly in terms of planned social strategies. De Waal was the first to introduce the thinking of Machiavelli to primatology, leading to the label "Machiavellian intelligence" that later became associated with it.[6] In the mid 1990’s the book was put on a reading list for Republican House freshmen.[3] In his writings, De Waal never shied away from attributing emotions and intentions to his primates, and as such his work inspired the field of primate cognition.[7]

De Waal's early work drew attention to deception and conflict resolution among primates, both of which became major areas of research. At first, his research was highly controversial and the label "reconciliation", which De Waal introduced for reunions after fights, was initially questioned, but came to be fully accepted with respect to animal behavior. De Waal's later work emphasized non-human animal empathy and the origins of morality. His most widely cited paper, written with his former student Stephanie Preston, concerns the evolutionary origin and neuroscience of empathy, not just in primates, but in mammals in general.[8]

In the 1990s, there was resistance from editors against De Waal's desire to publish his work on bonobos, which included potentially controversial work about bonobo sex. However, he published an article in Scientific American in 1995 and the book Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape in 1997.[9] De Waal made bonobos popular and gave them a "make love – not war" reputation.[10]

De Waal's larger goal was understanding what binds primate societies together rather than how competition structures them. However, competition is not ignored in his work: the original focus of de Waal's research was aggressive behavior and social dominance. Whereas his research focused on the behavior of nonhuman primates (mostly chimpanzees, bonobos, macaques, and capuchin monkeys), his popular books gave de Waal worldwide visibility by relating the insights he has gained from monkey and ape behavior to human society. With his students, he also worked on elephants, which were increasingly featured in his writings.[11]

De Waal's research into the innate capacity for empathy among primates led him 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. His belief is illustrated 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."[12]

This is quite opposite to the view of some economists and anthropologists, who postulate the differences between humans and other animals. However, recent work on prosocial tendencies in apes and monkeys supports de Waal's position. See, for example, the research of Felix Warneken,[13] a psychologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. In 2011, de Waal and his co-workers were the first to report that chimpanzees given a free choice between helping only themselves or helping themselves plus a partner, prefer the latter. In fact, de Waal does not believe these tendencies to be restricted to humans and apes, but views empathy and sympathy as universal mammalian characteristics, a view that over the past decade has gained support from studies on rodents and other mammals, such as dogs. He and his students have extensively worked on such cooperation and fairness in animals. In 2011 de Waal gave a TED Talk entitled "Moral behavior in animals".[14] Part of the talk dealt with inequity aversion among capuchin monkeys, and a video extract of this went viral. It showed the furious reaction of one monkey given a less desirable treat than another.[15] The most recent work in this area was the first demonstration that given a chance to play the ultimatum game, chimpanzees respond in the same way as children and human adults by preferring the equitable outcome.[16]

In 1981, de Waal moved to the United States for a position at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, and in 1991 took a position at Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was C.H. Candler Professor in the Psychology Department at Emory University and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory.[7] He became an American citizen in 2008.

In 2005 he coined the term Veneer theory.[17] His 2013 book The Bonobo and the Atheist examines human behavior through the eyes of a primatologist, and explores to what extent God and religion are needed for human morality. The main conclusion is that morality comes from within, and is part of human nature. The role of religion is secondary.[18]

De Waal also wrote a column for Psychologie Magazine, a popular Dutch monthly.[19]

From 1 September 2013, de Waal was a distinguished professor (universiteitshoogleraar) at Utrecht University. This was a part-time appointment whilst he remained in his position at Emory University, in Atlanta.[2][20]

In October 2016, de Waal was the guest on the BBC Radio Four program The Life Scientific.[21]

In June 2018, de Waal was awarded the NAT Award, established by the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona. It was awarded to de Waal "for his vision regarding the evolution of animal behaviour in establishing a parallel between primate and human behaviour in aspects such as politics, empathy, morality and justice."[22]

Two of de Waal’s last books, “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” (2016) and “Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves” (2019), were best sellers.[23]

De Waal died of stomach cancer on 14 March 2024 in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He was 75.[24]

Awards[edit]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist. New York: W. W. Norton. 2022. ISBN 978-1-324-00710-4.
  • Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves. New York: W. W. Norton. 2019. ISBN 978-0-393-63506-5.
  • Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?. New York: W. W. Norton. 2016. ISBN 978-0-393-24618-6.
  • The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates. New York: W. W. Norton. 2013. ISBN 978-0-393-07377-5.
  • The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society. New York: Crown Publishing Group. 2009. ISBN 9780307407771.
  • Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved, 2006. ISBN 0-691-12447-7
  • Our Inner Ape. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005. ISBN 1-57322-312-3[44]
  • Animal Social Complexity: Intelligence, Culture, and Individualized Societies, Edited with Peter L. Tyack. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-674-00929-0.
  • My Family Album, Thirty Years of Primate Photography 2003.
  • Tree of Origin: What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us about Human Social Evolution, Harvard University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-674-00460-4.
  • The Ape and the Sushi Master, Cultural reflections by a primatologist. New York: Basic Books, 2001. ISBN 0-465-04175-2
  • Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex Among Apes (25th Anniversary ed.). Baltimore, MD: JHU Press; 2007. ISBN 978-0-8018-8656-0.
  • Natural Conflict Resolution. 2000 (with Filippo Aureli)
  • Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. ISBN 0-520-20535-9 (with Frans Lanting)
  • Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-674-35660-8
  • Chimpanzee Cultures, Edited with Richard Wrangham, W.C. McGrew, and Paul Heltne. Foreword by Jane Goodall. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-674-11662-3.
  • Peacemaking Among Primates. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989. ISBN 0-674-65920-1

Articles[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Andrea Thompson (9 August 2007). "How did we go from ape to airplane? Scientists turn to chimpanzees to solve the mystery of our cultural roots". NBC News. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "Prof.dr. F.B.M. de Waal (1948 – )" (in Dutch). Utrecht University. Archived from the original on 7 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b Traub, Alex (20 March 2024). "Frans de Waal, Who Found the Origins of Morality in Apes, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  4. ^ Living Links Bio Page Archived 13 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Johnson, Eric Michael. "Frans de Waal on Political Apes, Science Communication, and Building a Cooperative Society". Scientific American. Archived from the original on 27 December 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  6. ^ Jackson, Michael; Grace, Damian (December 2012). "Machiavellian intelligence in primates and Machiavelli | M. Jackson and D. Grace". The Montréal Review. Archived from the original on 6 October 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  7. ^ a b Clark, Carol (16 March 2024). "Emory primatologist Frans de Waal remembered for bringing apes 'a little closer to humans'". Emory University. Archived from the original on 20 March 2024. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  8. ^ Preston, Stephanie D.; de Waal, Frans B. M. (February 2002). "Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases". Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 25 (1): 1–20. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.120.7176. doi:10.1017/S0140525X02000018. PMID 12625087. ProQuest 212324365.
  9. ^ Nuzzo, Regina (2005). "Profile of Frans B. M. de Waal". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 102 (32): 11137–11139. Bibcode:2005PNAS..10211137N. doi:10.1073/pnas.0505686102. PMC 1183609. PMID 16061791.
  10. ^ Weinstein, Deborah (December 2016). "The "Make Love, Not War" Ape: Bonobos and Late Twentieth-Century Explanations for War and Peace". Endeavour. 40 (4). ScienceDirect: 256–267. doi:10.1016/j.endeavour.2016.10.005. Archived from the original on 26 March 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  11. ^ Jabr, Ferris (26 February 2014). "The Science Is In: Elephants Are Even Smarter Than We Realized [Video]". Scientific American. Archived from the original on 3 February 2024. Retrieved 18 March 2024.
  12. ^ Gibson, Lauren (2015). "Darwin and the Human-Nonhuman Divide". Intersect. 8 (3). Archived from the original on 10 March 2023. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  13. ^ "Chimps beat us to that human touch". The Times. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Moral behavior in animals". TED. 10 April 2012. Archived from the original on 9 May 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  15. ^ "Two Monkeys Were Paid Unequally: Excerpt from Frans de Waal's TED Talk "Moral behavior in animals"". TED. Archived from the original on 4 February 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2022 – via YouTube.
  16. ^ Proctor, Darby; Williamson, Rebecca A.; de Waal, Frans B. M.; Brosnan, Sarah F. (2013). "Chimpanzees play the ultimatum game". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110 (6): 2070–2075. doi:10.1073/pnas.1220806110. JSTOR 41992181. PMC 3568338. PMID 23319633.
  17. ^ de Waal, Frans; Robert Wright; Christine M. Korsgaard; Philip Kitcher; Peter Singer (2009). Macedo, Stephen; Ober, Josiah (eds.). Primates and philosophers: How morality evolved. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-691-14129-9.
  18. ^ "Atheism In search of the ungodly". Economist. 6 April 2013. Archived from the original on 6 April 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  19. ^ "Frans de Waal". Psychologie Magazine. Archived from the original on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  20. ^ "Frans de Waal hoogleraar Utrecht" (in Dutch). nos.nl. 30 August 2013. Archived from the original on 12 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Frans de Waal, The Life Scientific – BBC Radio 4". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 October 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  22. ^ "NAT Award". museuciencies.cat. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  23. ^ Traub, Alex (20 March 2024). "Frans de Waal, Who Found the Origins of Morality in Apes, Dies at 75". The New York Times.
  24. ^ "'Wereldberoemde Nederlandse primatoloog Frans de Waal overleden'". Het Parool. 16 March 2024. Archived from the original on 16 March 2024. Retrieved 16 March 2024.
  25. ^ "Frans de Waal's "Mama's Last Hug" Receives the 2020 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award". EO Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. 11 March 2020. Archived from the original on 16 August 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  26. ^ "Yale awards honorary degrees to 10 individuals for their achievements". Yale University. 20 May 2018. Archived from the original on 19 August 2020.
  27. ^ "La primera edició del Premi Nat de divulgació de les ciències naturals distingeix el gran primatòleg, Frans de Waal". Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona. 12 June 2018. Archived from the original on 17 March 2024. Retrieved 17 March 2024.
  28. ^ "Distinguished Primatologist Award". American Society of Primatologists. 24 July 2023. Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  29. ^ "In Memoriam: Professor Frans de Waal". Eugène Dubois Foundation. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  30. ^ "È morto Frans de Waal, l'etologo che ha studiato le emozioni degli scimpanzé". La Repubblica (in Italian). 17 March 2024. Archived from the original on 20 March 2024. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  31. ^ Westry, Tiffany (5 February 2016). "Frans de Waal named recipient of 2016 Ireland Distinguished Visiting Scholar Award". UAB News. Archived from the original on 22 March 2023. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  32. ^ a b c d e "Prof. dr. F.B.M. (Frans) de Waal". Utrecht University. Archived from the original on 17 February 2024. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  33. ^ "Eredoctoraat voor bioloog Frans de Waal en econoom Avner Greif" (in Dutch). Utrecht University. 20 February 2013. Archived from the original on 9 July 2013.
  34. ^ "The 2012 Ig Nobel Prize Winners". Improbable.com. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  35. ^ Skojec, Chelsea (3 May 2016). "Conversation: Frans de Waal". Earth Island Journal. Archived from the original on 7 December 2023. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  36. ^ "Leeuw voor apenonderzoeker" (in Dutch). Trouw. 29 April 2010. Archived from the original on 18 April 2021. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  37. ^ "Frans B.M. de Waal". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 7 November 2020.
  38. ^ "The 2007 Time 100". Time. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020.
  39. ^ "Dr. Frans B. M. de Waal". American Philosophical Society. Archived from the original on 7 November 2020.
  40. ^ "Arthur W. Staats Lecture for Unifying Psychology". American Psychological Foundation. 14 March 2023. Archived from the original on 22 May 2023. Retrieved 21 March 2024.
  41. ^ "Frans B.M. de Waal". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on 24 March 2019.
  42. ^ "Frans de Waal". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 24 September 2020.
  43. ^ Kevles, Bettyann (5 November 1989). "1989 Book Prize Winner: Science and Technology : Peace: A Biological Imperative for Primates?". Los Angeles Times.
  44. ^ Grandin, T. (9 October 2005). "Review of Our Inner Ape by Frans de Waal". The New York Times. p. 23. Archived from the original on 14 April 2018. Retrieved 13 April 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]