The Animal Behavior Podcast

E05: Marcela Benítez on Social Comparisons and Cognition in Non-human Primates

August 16, 2021 The Animal Behavior Podcast Season 1 Episode 5
The Animal Behavior Podcast
E05: Marcela Benítez on Social Comparisons and Cognition in Non-human Primates
Show Notes

Episode Summary:

In this episode, Matthew speaks with Marcela Benítez (@mebenitez85), an assistant professor in the department of Anthropology at Emory University and co-director of the Capuchinos de Taboga research project.

They start out by talking about social comparisons in humans and non-human primates. They discuss mutual assessment and Marcela's work exploring mutual assessment in geladas. Then they talk about non-human primate perceptions of inequity, its implications for cooperation, and the role of outgroups in promoting in-group cooperation. After the break, they discuss the overlap between psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary anthropology as well as the work of Marcela and her colleagues to make primate fieldwork for accessible for undergraduates.

For more content from this interview with Marcela, check out the Supplemental Material bonus episode in your feed.

This week's Two-Minute Takeaway comes from Sateesh Vankatesh (@SVenkatesh__), a graduate student in the labs of Dr. Joshua Plotnik (@cccanimals) and Dr. Shifra Goldenberg (@ShifGold), working with the Smithsonian (@NationalZoo). Read more about the Comparative Cognition for Conservation lab here.

Papers relevant to today's show:

The discussed review of social comparisons and their evolutionary origins

Benítez, M. E., & Brosnan, S. F. (2019). The Evolutionary Roots of Social Comparisons. Social Comparison, Judgment, and Behavior, 462.

2.  Marcela's paper demonstrating mutual assessment of fighting ability in geladas

Benítez, M. E., Pappano, D. J., Beehner, J. C., & Bergman, T. J. (2017). Evidence for mutual assessment in a wild primate. Scientific reports, 7(1), 1-11.

3. Sarah Brosnan's TED talk, including video of a capuchin rejecting a cucumber in the face of inequity (~2:40 into the talk)

Video here 


The Animal Behavior Podcast is created by Matthew Zipple (@MatthewZipple) and Amy Strauss (@avstrauss).

You can contact us at and find us on Twitter (@AnimalBehavPod).

Our theme song is by Sally Street (@Rainbow_Road13), assistant professor in evolutionary anthropology at Durham University in the UK. You can find her on Sound Cloud here:

Musical transitions by André Gonçalves (@fieryangelsfell), a researcher at the primate research institute at Kyoto University.

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The Animal Behavior Podcast is produced with support from the Animal Behavior Society (@AnimBehSociety)