Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) and Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus apella) Follow Gaze Around Barriers: Evidence for Perspective Taking?

Federica Amici*, Filippo Aureli, Elisabetta Visalberghi, Josep Call

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Gaze following is an adaptive skill that might have been selected in social species, such as many nonhuman primates, to obtain information about food location, predators, and social interactions. The authors investigated the ability of spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) and capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) to follow the gaze of a human around barriers and the presence of "looking back" behavior. In the 1st experiment, a human looked to a target location inside the testing room, whereas in the 2nd experiment, the human looked behind an opaque barrier placed outside the testing room. The authors compared the frequency of looking at the target location with the corresponding baseline looking frequencies. Both species (a) showed evidence of spontaneous gaze following in the 1st experiment and (b) engaged in gaze following behind the barrier in the 2nd experiment. In contrast, neither species performed "looking back" responses. The authors conclude that both monkey species showed some indication of perspective-taking abilities, although the absence of "looking back" behavior suggests a potential difference from the abilities shown by the great apes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-374
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Volume123
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

Keywords

  • gaze following
  • spider monkeys
  • capuchin monkeys
  • comparative cognition
  • JOINT VISUAL-ATTENTION
  • OBJECT-CHOICE TASK
  • CALLITHRIX-JACCHUS
  • COMMON MARMOSETS
  • PAN-TROGLODYTES
  • MACACA-MULATTA
  • DIRECTION
  • CHIMPANZEES
  • INFANTS
  • EYES

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