All great ape species follow gaze to distant locations and around barriers.
Following the gaze direction of conspecifics is an adaptive skill that enables individuals to obtain useful information about the location of food, predators, and group mates. In the current study, the authors compared the gaze-following skills of all 4 great ape species. In the 1st experiment, a human either looked to the ceiling or looked straight ahead. Individuals from all species reliably followed the human's gaze direction and sometimes even checked back when they found no target. In a 2nd experiment, the human looked behind some kind of barrier. Results showed that individuals from all species reliably put themselves in places from which they could see what the experimenter was looking at behind the barrier. These results support the hypothesis that great apes do not just orient to a target that another is oriented to, but they actually attempt to take the visual perspective of the other.
Bräuer, J; Call, J; Tomasello, M
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