Chimpanzees know that others make inferences

Martin Schmelz*, Josep Call, Michael Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

If chimpanzees are faced with two opaque boards on a table, in the context of searching for a single piece of food, they do not choose the board lying flat (because if food was under there it would not be lying flat) but, rather, they choose the slanted one-presumably inferring that some unperceived food underneath is causing the slant. Here we demonstrate that chimpanzees know that other chimpanzees in the same situation will make a similar inference. In a back-and-forth foraging game, when their competitor had chosen before them, chimpanzees tended to avoid the slanted board on the assumption that the competitor had already chosen it. Chimpanzees can determine the inferences that a conspecific is likely to make and then adjust their competitive strategies accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3077-3079
Number of pages3
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume108
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2011

Keywords

  • social cognition
  • competition
  • theory of mind
  • CONSPECIFICS
  • MIND

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