JOUR FIXE with Friederike Range

The Evolution of Imitation: Cultural Transmission and Cooperation in Dogs and Wolves



Culture and cooperation are fundamental aspects of human societies and are built on unique human skills. Cultural transmission is ensured by copying fidelity that seems to be facilitated by the communicative context typical for human teaching. Cooperation to achieve a shared goal and coordination with others require attention towards the partner’s behaviour as well as its intentions. These abilities, however, have roots in the evolutionary past and/or are matched by convergent (analoguous) traits in social species. Comparisons with nonhuman species reveal the evolutionary origins and functional relevance of the cognitive and emotional characteristics possibly contributing to human culture and cooperation. This talk reviews ongoing research exploring the capacities and the underlying mechanisms of cultural transmission and cooperation in dogs and wolves.
 At the end a short introduction of the organizational structure of the Clever Dog Lab and Wolf Science Center will be provided.


Friederike Range studied Biology at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. For her Masters she conducted field research on sooty mangabeys in West Africa, investigating the social system of the adult females. After finishing her diploma, she started her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania (USA) to continue the research on sooty mangabeys and study their social cognition, their third-party knowledge and their knowledge about group membership. When Range finished her PhD she returned to Europe, first working on ravens for several months at the Konrad-Lorenz Institute in Grünau, before accepting a first Postdoc position in Vienna. The Postdoc project examined social learning in marmosets and dogs. In 2007, she established together with Ludwig Huber and Zsófia Virányi the Clever Dog Lab and in 2008, she also founded with Zsófia Virányi and Kurt Kotrschal the Wolf Science Center. The two labs have been very successful in the last years with several large research projects in varies areas of canine cognition and several publications.


"Jour Fixe concept"