Rational tool use and tool choice in human infants and great apes

David Buttelmann*, Malinda Carpenter, Josep Call, Michael Tomasello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

G. Gergely, H. Bekkering, and I. Király (2002) showed that 14-month-old infants imitate rationally, copying an adult's unusual action more often when it was freely chosen than when it was forced by some constraint. This suggests that infants understand others' intentions as rational choices of action plans. It is important to test whether apes also understand others' intentions in this way. In each of the current 3 studies, a comparison group of 14-month-olds used a tool more often when a demonstrator freely chose to use it than when she had to use it, but apes generally used the tool equally often in both conditions (orangutans were an exception). Only some apes thus show an understanding of others' intentions as rational choices of action plans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-626
Number of pages18
JournalChild Development
Volume79
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Child Psychology
  • Choice Behavior
  • Comprehension
  • Female
  • Freedom
  • Germany
  • Goals
  • Hominidae
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Psychological Tests
  • Reward
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Tool Use Behavior
  • Videotape Recording

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