, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 84-92

Chimpanzees’ (Pan troglodytes) use of gaze cues in object-choice tasks: different methods yield different results

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Abstract

To assess the influence of different procedures on chimpanzees’ performance in object-choice tasks, five adult chimpanzees were tested using three experimenter-given cues to food location: gazing, glancing, and pointing. These cues were delivered to the subjects in an identical fashion but were deployed within the context of two distinct meta-procedures that have been previously employed with this species with conflicting results. In one procedure, the subjects entered the test unit and approached the experimenter (who had already established the cue) on each trial. In the other procedure, the subjects stayed in the test unit throughout a session, witnessed the hiding procedure, and waited for a delay of 10 s during which the cue was provided. The subjects scored at high levels far exceeding chance in response to the gaze cue only when they approached the experimenter for each trial. They performed at chance levels when they stayed inside the test unit throughout the session. They scored at chance levels on all other cues irrespective of the procedure. These findings imply that (a) chimpanzees can immediately exploit social gaze cues, and (b) previous conflicting findings were likely due to the different meta-procedures that were used.