Shinya Yamamoto

Shinya Yamamoto , Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Kyoto University Institute for Advanced Study

I am studying the evolution of sociality and its related intelligence in humans and non-human animals, developing a two-by-two research paradigm: cognitive experiments and fieldwork with chimpanzees and bonobos. Recently I have been expanding this to some other animals such as dogs, cats, horses and elephants, both in captivity and in natural environments. My ultimate theme is to explore what humanity is. Where did it come from and how can it change in the future? I am especially interested in the evolution of social living characterized by empathy, cooperation, and culture. My previous work has revealed that chimpanzees help others upon request, but not proactively, even when they understand others' goals. This suggests that proactive helping is one of unique characteristics of humans. I welcome international students / postdocs / researchers who can collaborate in this interdisciplinary research area.

Keywords: comparative cognitive science, evolutionary closest animals, domesticated animals, social intelligence, group-mindedness, altruism, cooperation, empathy, culture

Lab Website
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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), Graduate 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 Publications Original articles (peer-reviewed)

Original Japanese Articles with English Summary
  • Yamamoto, S. Evolution of food sharing and cooperative societies: comparative cognitive approach with bonobos, chimpanzees, and humans. The Japanese Journal of Animal Psychology, 67 (2), 63-71.
  • Takimoto, A., & Yamamoto, S. (2015) Three-factor combination model for empathy-related phenomena and relevant evidence in nonhuman primates. Shinrigaku-Hyoron (Psychological Review), 58 (3), 255-270.
  • 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). Reichouruikenkyu, 21 (1), 19-26.

  • Hare, B., & Yamamoto, S. Eds. (2017) Bonobos: Unique in mind, brain, and behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hare, B., & Yamamoto, S. Eds. (2015) Bonobo Cognition and Behaviour. Leiden: Brill.

Book Capters
  • Yamamoto, S. (2020) The evolution of cooperation in dyads and in groups: two-by-two research comparing chimpanzees and bonobos in the wild and in the laboratory. In Hopper, L. & Ross, S. (Eds.), Chimpanzees in Context, The University of Chicago Press. pp. 330-345. [url]]
  • Yamamoto, S., Tokuyama, N., Clay, Z., & Hare, B. (2019) Chimpanzee and bonobo. In: Choe, J. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, 2nd edition, Elsevier. pp. 324-334
  • Yu, L., Hattori, Y., Yamamoto, S., & Tomonaga, M. (2018) Understanding empathy from interactional synchrony in humans and non-human primates. In Di Paolo, L.D. & Di Vincenzo, F. (Eds.), Evolution of Primate Social Cognition, Springer. pp. 47-58
  • Yamamoto, S. & Furuichi, T. (2017) Courtesy food sharing characterized by begging for social bonds in wild bonobos. In B. Hare & S. Yamamoto (Eds.), Bonobos: Unique in mind, brain, and behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 125-139.
  • Hare, B., & Yamamoto, S. (2017) Minding the bonobo mind. In B. Hare & S. Yamamoto (Eds.), Bonobos: Unique in mind, brain, and behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-13.
  • Sakamaki, T., Behncke, I., Laporte, M., Mulavwa, M., Ryu, H., Takemoto, H., Tokuyama, N., Yamamoto, S., & Furuichi, T. (2015) Intergroup Transfer of Females and Social Relationships Between Immigrants and Residents in Bonobo (Pan paniscus) Societies. In T. Furuichi, J. Yamagiwa, & F. Aureli (Eds.), Dispersing Primate Females: Life History and Social Strategies in Male-Philopatric Species. Tokyo: Springer-Verlag, pp. 127-164.
  • 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.