Piagetian conservation of discrete quantities in bonobos (Pan paniscus), chimpanzees (Pan trogiodytes), and orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus)

C Suda*, J Call

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigated whether physical discreteness helps apes to understand the concept of Piagetian conservation (i.e. the invariance of quantities). Subjects were four bonobos, three chimpanzees, and five orangutans. Apes were tested on their ability to conserve discrete/continuous quantities in an over-conservation procedure in which two unequal quantities of edible rewards underwent various transformations in front of subjects. Subjects were examined to determine whether they could track the larger quantity of reward after the transformation. Comparison between the two types of conservation revealed that tests with bonobos supported the discreteness hypothesis. Bonobos, but neither chimpanzees nor orangutans, performed significantly better with discrete quantities than with continuous ones. The results suggest that at least bonobos could benefit from the discreteness of stimuli in their acquisition of conservation skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-235
Number of pages16
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

Keywords

  • piagetian conservation
  • apes
  • discreteness of stimuli
  • HUMANS HOMO-SAPIENS
  • PERCEPTUAL STRATEGIES
  • NUMERICAL COMPETENCE
  • LIQUID CONSERVATION
  • LANGUAGE-SKILLS
  • YOUNG-CHILDREN
  • TROGLODYTES
  • NUMBER
  • ACQUISITION
  • SUMMATION

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