Shinya Yamamoto

Associate Professor, Kobe University
(KS alumnus)

Research theme

I'm studying the evolition of social intelligence in humans and non-human animals, developing a two-by-two research paradigm: experiments and fieldwork with chimpanzees and bonobos.
My main research topic is the evolution of cooperation, altruism, reciprocity, and understanding others.
Based on my previous work, I proposed a hypothesis that chimpanzees help others upon request, but not proactively, even when they understand others' goals.
I'm trying to incorporate various methodologies and philosophies of various research fields, such as psychology, biology, ecology, sociology, and behavioral economics.
Recently, I'm working with 50 chimpanzees in Kumamoto Sanctuary of Kyoto University, and also conducting fieldwork in Bossou in Guinea, in Wamba in DR Congo, and in Bhutan.


chimpanzee, bonobo, social intelligence, altruism, reciprocity, cooperation, empathy, imitative learning, comparative cognitive science, fieldwork

Education and career track

May 1981: Born in Nara, Japan
Mar 2004: B.A. Biology, Faculty of Science, Kyoto University
Mar 2006: M.A. Biology (Comparative Psychology), Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University
Mar 2009: Ph.D. Science (Comparative Psychology), Gradiate School of Science, Kyoto University

Ph.D. thesis

An experimental study of altruism, reciprocity, and understanding of others in chimpanzees
(supervised by Prof. Tetsuro Matsuzawa)

Selected publication

Electronic versions of these papers are provided as a professional courtesy to ensure timely dissemination of academic work for individual and noncommercial purposes. Copyright and all rights therein reside with the respective copyright holders, as stated within each paper. These files may not be reposted without permission.
Original articles (peer-reviewed)

Original article (in Japanese with English summary)

  • Yamamoto, S. (2011) Evolution of altruism and cooperation: perspectives on its mechanisms and adaptation to social systems. Reichouruikenkyu, 27 (2), 95-109.
  • Yamamoto, S. (2011) Similarities and differences between humans and chimpanzees. Jinbungakuho, 100, 145-160.
  • Yamamoto, S. (2010) Helping upon request in chimpanzees: evolutionary basis for human altruism and reciprocity. Shinrigaku-Hyoron (Psychological Review), 53, 422-433.
  • Yamamoto, S. (2005) Social factors influencing within-group vigilance in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), 21 (1), 19-26.


  • Hare, B., & Yamamoto, S. Eds. (2015) The special issue “Bonobo Cognition and Behaviour”. Behaviour, Brill.
  • Yamamoto, S. (2013) Invention and modification of new tool-use behavior. In E. G. Carayannis (ed.), Encyclopedia of Creativity, Invention, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, New York / Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 1131-1139. 
  • Yamamoto, S., Yamakoshi, G., Humle, T., & Matsuzawa, T.(2011) Ant-fishing in trees: invention and modification of a new tool use behavior. In T. Matsuzawa, T. Humle, & Y. Sugiyama (Eds.), The chimpanzees in Bossou and Nimba. Tokyo: Springer-Verlag, pp. 123-130.

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