Chimpanzees know what conspecifics do and do not see
We report a series of experiments on social problem solving in chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes. In each experiment a subordinate and a dominant individual were put into competition over two pieces of food. In all experiments dominants obtained virtually all of the foods to which they had good visual and physical access. However, subordinates were successful quite often in three situations in which they had better visual access to the food than the dominant, for example, when the food was positioned so that only the subordinate (and not the dominant) could see it. In some cases, the subordinate might have been monitoring the behaviour of the dominant directly and simply avoided the food that the dominant was moving towards (which just happened to be the one it could see). In other cases, however, we ruled out this possibility by giving subordinates a small headstart and forcing them to make their choice (to go to the food that both competitors could see, or the food that only they could see) before the dominant was released into the area. Together with other recent studies, the present investigation suggests that chimpanzees know what conspecifics can and cannot see, and, furthermore, that they use this knowledge to devise effective social-cognitive strategies in naturally occurring food competition situations. (C)2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
Hare, B; Call, J; Agnetta, B; Tomasello, M
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