Apes are intuitive statisticians

Hannes Rakoczy*, Annette Cluever, Liane Saucke, Nicole Stoffregen, Alice Graebener, Judith Migura, Josep Call

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Inductive learning and reasoning, as we use it both in everyday life and in science, is characterized by flexible inferences based on statistical information: inferences from populations to samples and vice versa. Many forms of such statistical reasoning have been found to develop late in human ontogeny, depending on formal education and language, and to be fragile even in adults. New revolutionary research, however, suggests that even preverbal human infants make use of intuitive statistics. Here, we conducted the first investigation of such intuitive statistical reasoning with non-human primates. In a series of 7 experiments, Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Orangutans drew flexible statistical inferences from populations to samples. These inferences, furthermore, were truly based on statistical information regarding the relative frequency distributions in a population, and not on absolute frequencies. Intuitive statistics in its most basic form is thus an evolutionarily more ancient rather than a uniquely human capacity. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-68
Number of pages9
JournalCognition
Volume131
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Keywords

  • Comparative psychology
  • Primate cognition
  • Intuitive statistics
  • Numerical cognition
  • YOUNG-CHILDREN
  • 6-MONTH-OLD INFANTS
  • DECISION-MAKING
  • LARGE NUMBERS
  • MONKEYS
  • PROPORTIONALITY
  • DISCRIMINATION
  • CONSTRAINTS
  • UNCERTAINTY
  • SONGBIRDS

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