A Sussex University professor has said researchers studying the behaviour of chimpanzees should pay more attention to their upbringing.
Psychology lecturer Dr David Leavens said comparing chimps to humans without considering their rearing is akin to comparing a child brought up in a loving family to one brought up in a Romanian orphanage.
The animal cognition expert has published a paper with Professor Kim A Bard, of Portsmouth University, calling for developmental experiences to be better considered.
Prof Bard said: “Ignoring development is a real problem because primates’ social cognition develops as a result of social experiences.”
The report in the Annual Review of Anthropology argues that studies that do not take rearing into account have major flaws.
Prof Bard said they mistake group-specific differences as “species” differences and only use one human group, usually from rich, western families, as representative of all humans.
Calling for more balanced research, she said: “We cannot base our scientific conclusions on flawed research designs. That is simply not acceptable.”