Chimpanzees strategically manipulate what others can see

K. Karg, M. Schmelz, J. Call, M. Tomasello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Humans often strategically manipulate the informational access of others to their own advantage. Although chimpanzees know what others can and cannot see, it is unclear whether they can strategically manipulate others’ visual access. In this study, chimpanzees were given the opportunity to save food for themselves by concealing it from a human competitor and also to get more food for themselves by revealing it to a human cooperator. When knowing that a competitor was approaching, chimpanzees kept more food hidden (left it covered) than when expecting a cooperator to approach. When the experimenter was already at the location of the hidden food, they actively revealed less food to the competitor than to the cooperator. They did not actively hide food (cover up food in the open) from the competitor, however. Chimpanzees thus strategically manipulated what another could see in order to maximize their payoffs and showed their ability to plan for future situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1069-1076
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Cognition
Early online date12 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


  • Deception
  • Hiding
  • Perspective taking
  • Future planning
  • Chimpanzee


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