Does 'Relationship Intelligence' Make Big Brains in Birds?

Isabella B.R. Scheiber*, Brigitte M. Weiβ, Katharina Hirschenhauser, Claudia A.F. Wascher, Iulia T. Nedelcu, Kurt Kotrschal
Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle für Ethologie, A-4645 Grünau 11, Austria

© 2008 Scheiber et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle für Ethologie, Fischerau 11, 4645 Gruenau im Almtal, Austria; E-mail:


Lately, Emery et al. developed a bird-specific modification of the “social brain hypothesis”, termed “relationship intelligence hypothesis”. Although the idea may be valuable, we doubt that it is supported by sufficient evidence and critically discuss some of the arguments raised by the authors in favour of their new idea.