Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Great apes generate goal-based action predictions: an eye-tracking study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To examine great apes’ on-line prediction of other individuals’ actions, we used an eye-tracking technique and an experimental paradigm previously used to test human infants. Twenty-two great apes, including bonobos, chimpanzees, and orangutans, were familiarized to movie clips of a human hand reaching to grasp one of two objects. Then the objects’ locations were swapped, and in the test event, the hand made an incomplete reach between the objects. In a control condition, a mechanical claw performed the same actions. The apes predictively looked at the familiarized goal object rather than the familiarized location when viewing the hand action in the test event. However, they made no prediction when viewing the claw action. These results are similar to those reported previously for human infants, and predictive looking did not differ among the three species of great apes. Thus, great apes make on-line goal-based predictions about the actions of other individuals; this skill is not unique to humans but is shared more widely among primates.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1691-1698
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - 27 Sep 2014

    Research areas

  • Action prediction, Eye tracking, Nonhuman primates, Proactive goal-directed eye movements

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Intuitive statistical inferences in chimpanzees and humans follow Weber‘s Law

    Eckert, J., Call, J., Hermes, J., Herrmann, E. & Rakoczy, H. 14 Jul 2018 In : Cognition. 180, p. 99-107 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. The social-cognitive basis of infants’ reference to absent entities

    Bohn, M., Zimmermann, L., Call, J. & Tomasello, M. 6 Apr 2018 In : Cognition. 177, p. 41-48 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Chimpanzees consider humans' psychological states when drawing statistical inferences

    Eckert, J., Rakoczy, H., Call, J., Herrmann, E. & Hanus, D. 18 Jun 2018 In : Current Biology. 28, 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Intuitive optics: what great apes infer from mirrors and shadows

    Völter, C. J. & Call, J. 2 May 2018 In : Animal Cognition. First Online, 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Primate social attention: species differences and effects of individual experience in humans, great apes, and macaques

    Kano, F., Shepherd, S. V., Hirata, S. & Call, J. 23 Feb 2018 In : PLoS One. 13, 2, 25 p., e0193283

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Integrating approaches requires more than a division of labour: commentary on Wӧlfer & Hewstone

    Cross, C. P. & Campbell, A. Feb 2017 In : Psychological Science. 28, 2, p. 248-250

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

  2. Young children show the bystander effect in helping situations

    Plötner, M., Over, H., Carpenter, M. & Tomasello, M. Apr 2015 In : Psychological Science. 26, 4, p. 499-506

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Forgiving you is hard, but forgetting seems easy: can forgiveness facilitate forgetting?

    Noreen, S., Bierman, R. & MacLeod, M. D. Jul 2014 In : Psychological Science. 25, 7, p. 1295-1302

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Seeing in 3D with just one eye: Stereopsis without binocular vision

    Vishwanath, D. & Hibbard, P. B. Sep 2013 In : Psychological Science. 24, 9, p. 1673-1685 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 157761562