Smarter through group living: A response to Smulders

Benjamin J. Ashton, Amanda R. Ridley, Alex Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

5 Citations (Scopus)


We recently identified a strong, positive relationship between group size and individual cognitive performance, and a strong, positive relationship between female cognitive performance and reproductive success (Ashton, Ridley, Edwards, & Thornton in Nature, 554, 364–367, 2018). An opinion piece by Smulders (Learning & Behavior,, 2018) raised the interesting notion that these patterns may be underlined by motivational factors. In this commentary, we highlight why none of the available data are consistent with this explanation, but instead support the argument that the demands of group living influence cognitive development, with knock-on consequences for fitness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-279
Number of pages3
Issue number4
Early online date10 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Australian magpie
  • Cognitive ecology
  • Social intelligence hypothesis


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