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A competitive nonverbal false belief task for children and apes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

Carla Krachun, Malinda Carpenter, Josep Call, Michael Tomasello

School/Research organisations

Abstract

A nonverbal false belief task was administered to children (mean age 5 years) and two great ape species: chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus). Because apes typically perform poorly in cooperative contexts, our task was competitive. Two versions were run: in both, a human competitor witnessed an experimenter hide a reward in one of two containers. When the competitor then left the room (version A) or turned around (version B), the experimenter switched the locations of the containers. The competitor returned and reached with effort, but unsuccessfully, towards the incorrect container. Children displayed an understanding of the competitor's false belief by correctly choosing the other container to find the reward. Apes did not. However, in version A (but not version B), apes looked more often at the unchosen container in false belief trials than in true belief control trials, possibly indicating some implicit or uncertain understanding that needs to be investigated further.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-535
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Science
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

    Research areas

  • CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES, TEST-RETEST RELIABILITY, INFANT CHIMPANZEES, GREAT APES, MIND, ATTRIBUTION, OTHERS, SEE, CONSPECIFICS, RECOGNITION

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