Chimpanzees know what others know, but not what they believe

Juliane Kaminski*, Josep Call, Michael Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is currently much controversy about which, if any, mental states chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates understand. In the current two studies we tested both chimpanzees' and human children's understanding of both knowledge-ignorance and false belief in the same experimental paradigm involving competition with a conspecific. We found that whereas 6-year-old children understood both of these mental states, chimpanzees understood knowledge-ignorance but not false belief After ruling out various alternative explanations of these and related findings, we conclude that in at least some situations chimpanzees know what others know. Possible explanations for their failure in the highly similar false belief task are discussed. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-234
Number of pages11
JournalCognition
Volume109
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

Keywords

  • Knowledge
  • False belief
  • Mental states
  • Chimpanzees
  • Theory of mind
  • Social cognition
  • OF-MIND DEVELOPMENT
  • PAN-TROGLODYTES
  • FALSE BELIEF
  • RATIONAL IMITATION
  • 18-MONTH-OLDS KNOW
  • GREAT APES
  • INFANTS
  • CONSPECIFICS
  • EVOLUTION
  • TIME

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