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Liquid conservation in orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and humans (Homo sapiens): Individual differences and perceptual strategies

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Author(s)

J Call, P Rochat

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Four orangutans (1 juvenile, 2 subadults, and 1 adult) and ten 6-8-year-old children were tested in 4 liquid conservation tasks of increasing levels of difficulty. Task difficulty depended on the type of transformation (continuous vs. discontinuous quantities) and the relative contrast between the shapes of the containers. Results indicate that orangutans did not display conservation in the strict sense; instead they showed ''partial'' conservation (intermediate reactions according to J. Piaget & B. Inhelder, 1941). In contrast, some of the children provided evidence of conservation in all 4 tasks, showing ''true'' or logically necessary conservation in the original sense proposed by J. Piaget and B. Inhelder (1941). Although orangutans did not show conservation in the strict sense, as J. Piaget (1955) and others have generally agreed it should be defined, orangutans behaved as individual and creative problem solvers, adopting different perceptual strategies depending on the task.

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-232
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Volume110
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1996
Event25th Annual Symposium of the Jean-Piaget-Society - BERKELEY, Canada
Duration: 1 Jun 1995 → …

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