Great apes anticipate that other individuals will act according to false beliefs.

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2016-10-07

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Abstract

Humans operate with a "theory of mind" with which they are able to understand that others' actions are driven not by reality but by beliefs about reality, even when those beliefs are false. Although great apes share with humans many social-cognitive skills, they have repeatedly failed experimental tests of such false-belief understanding. We use an anticipatory looking test (originally developed for human infants) to show that three species of great apes reliably look in anticipation of an agent acting on a location where he falsely believes an object to be, even though the apes themselves know that the object is no longer there. Our results suggest that great apes also operate, at least on an implicit level, with an understanding of false beliefs.

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10.1126/science.aaf8110

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Krupenye, Christopher, Fumihiro Kano, Satoshi Hirata, Josep Call and Michael Tomasello (2016). Great apes anticipate that other individuals will act according to false beliefs. Science, 354(6308). pp. 110–114. 10.1126/science.aaf8110 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13632.

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Tomasello

Michael Tomasello

James F. Bonk Distinguished Professor

Major research interests in processes of social cognition, social learning, cooperation, and communication from developmental, comparative, and cultural perspectives. Current theoretical focus on processes of shared intentionality. Empirical research mainly with human children from 1 to 4 years of age and great apes.


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