Affiliations: Department of Education and Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology/Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany | Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK | Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany | Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Note:  Address for correspondence: Katja Liebal, Freie Universität Berlin, Cluster Languages of Emotion, Department of Education and Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, Germany. E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: The aim of this essay is to elucidate the relevance of cross-species comparisons for the investigation of human behavior and its development. The focus is on the comparison of human children and another group of primates, the non-human great apes, with special attention to their cognitive skills. Integrating a comparative and developmental perspective, we argue, can provide additional answers to central and elusive questions about human behavior in general and its development in particular: What are the heritable predispositions of the human mind? What cognitive traits are uniquely human? In this sense, Developmental Science would benefit from results of Comparative Psychology.
Keywords: development, cognitive skills, great apes, primates, comparative psychology