Behavioral Grooves Podcast

Play, Reciprocity and Context: The Keys to Happy Communities with Jessica Mayhew

Oct. 28, 2020

Jessica Mayhew, PhD teaches Biological Anthropology as well as Primate Culture & Cognition at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. She got our attention when her comments about how primates play together are related to the way humans play. Not that that in and of itself is a big surprise, but the way we play and the context we play in are – of course – highly influential in how we play.

She reminded us about the important role reciprocity has in the animal kingdom, just as it does among humans. She talked about context and environment and she gave us a couple of key examples. She noted how primate communities that value cooperation with their juveniles end up with adults that cooperate. And the opposite is true as well. Highly competitive groups foster more competitive behaviors in their juveniles. Kinda gets you thinking about human communities, right?

Jessica inspires us with her interdisciplinary focus and the way she’s always looking for ways to cross into new fields. That’s why we call her a hedgefox: she’s super deep into primatology, but she also likes to dabble in anthropology and other disciplines as well.

And, in a related note, she reminded us that none of us are disconnected from the whole – we are all a part of the same ecosystem, and we can take a lesson from that.

© 2020 Behavioral Grooves



Jessica Mayhew, PhD:

Mia Hamm:

Scottie Pippen:

Jane Goodall:

Dian Fossey:

Birutė Galdikas: “Clue” Movie on Monkey’s Brains:

“Where the Wild Things Play,” by Erik Vance in The New York Times:

Frans de Waal “Mama’s Last Hug”:

“Homo Ludens”:

Michael Boden, Episode 136:


Jez Groom/Cowry Consulting:

Minneapolis Uses Opera to Reduce Crime:

Todd Fonseca, Episode 8:


Musical Links

Yo-Yo Ma:

Pablo Casals:

Kendrick Lamar:

Planet Earth II Soundtrack: neither hosts nor alters podcast files. All content © its respective owners.