Chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, follow gaze direction geometrically


Journal Article

Two experiments on chimpanzee gaze following are reported. In the first, chimpanzee subjects watched as a human experimenter looked around various types of barriers. The subjects looked around each of the barriers more when the human had done so than in a control condition (in which the human looked-in another direction). In the second experiment, chimpanzees watched as a human looked towards the back of their cage. As they turned to follow the human's gaze a distractor-object was presented. The chimpanzees looked at the distractor while still following the human's gaze to the back of the cage. These two experiments effectively disconfirm the low-level model of chimpanzee gaze following in which it is claimed that upon seeing another animate being's gaze direction chimpanzees simply turn in that direction and look around for something interesting. Rather, they support the hypothesis that chimpanzees follow the gaze direction of other animate beings geometrically to specific locations, in much the same way as human infants. The degree to which chimpanzees have a mentalistic interpretation of the gaze and/or visual experience of others is still an open question.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tomasello, M; Hare, B; Agnetta, B

Published Date

  • January 1, 1999

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 58 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 769 - 777

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-3472

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1006/anbe.1999.1192

Citation Source

  • Scopus