College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Frans B.M. de Waal to Lecture at Mason

Respected ethologist and biologist to discuss animal emotions.

by College Staff

On Monday April 12 at 2 pm, Frans BM de Waal, a Dutch-born ethologist/biologist known for his work on the social intelligence of primates, will deliver a lecture in Enterprise Hall Room 80 at George Mason University.  

De Waal, whose first book Chimpanzee Politics compared the schmoozing and scheming of chimpanzees in power struggles to that of human politics, will discuss the possibility that animals have empathy and sympathy and other emotions in an event sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“De Waal knows more about primate society than just about anyone,” said Mason economics professor Garett Jones. “His studies of primates and monkeys have shown that many social norms, many emotional reactions, many social hierarchies, aren't unique to humans: We share these in common with our nearest relatives.”

De Waal has long drawn parallels between primate and human behavior, from peacemaking and morality to culture. His scientific work has been published in hundreds of technical articles in journals. His popular books have been translated into 15 languages and have made him one of the world’s most visible primatologists.

“In my own work with monkeys and apes, I have found many cases of one individual coming to another’s rescue in a fight, putting an arm around a previous victim of attack, or other emotional responses to the distress of others,” de Waal has written. “In fact, the entire communication system of non-human primates seems emotionally mediated.”

Currently, de Waal is a C.H. Chandler professor in the Psychology Department at Emory University and Director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Center in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2007, Time Magazine selected him as one of the  “World’s 100 Most Influential People Today.”

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