What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

Are Chimpanzees Better Strategists than Humans?

June 6, 2014, 5:11 PM

What's the Latest?

Scientists studying the capacity for strategic thinking among non-human species have found chimpanzees comparable (if not superior) to their human cousins in the realm of decision-making. Faced with a set of abstract competitive situations, the tested chimpanzees exhibited a proficiency for altering their decisions in reaction to failure that bested that of humans tasked with the same goals. Researchers hypothesize that chimpanzees may "retain or practice a specialized capacity to adjust strategy choice during competition to perform at least as well as, or better than, humans have."

What's the Big Idea?

The study, held at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute, consisted of chimpanzees playing a so-called matcher-mismatcher game (video here). Teams of humans, forbidden from speaking, also played the game. In order to encourage playing the game, chimps were rewarded with apples. The humans were rewarded with money (sounds like the chimps got the raw deal). The basic results: the chimps clobbered the humans and performed up to the Nash equilibrium. Chimpanzees are widely regarded to possess superior short-term memories, excellent pattern-recognition skills, and exhibit more heightened competitive tendencies than their human counterparts.

Before anyone gets any crazy ideas and decides to hire a chimp to run a Navy or something, do note that the researchers identify that humans still reign supreme in "games requiring coordination and cooperation, where language is particularly useful."

Take that, chimps.

Keep Reading at Nature.com and Sciencemag.org

Photo Credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock


Are Chimpanzees Better Stra...

Newsletter: Share: