Animal Cognition

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 439–448 | Cite as

Chimpanzees really know what others can see in a competitive situation

  • Juliane Bräuer
  • Josep Call
  • Michael Tomasello
Original Paper


Chimpanzee’s perspective-taking abilities are currently disputed. Here we show that in some food competition contexts, subordinate chimpanzees do take the visual perspective of dominant individuals, preferentially targeting a hidden piece of the food that the dominant cannot see over a piece that is visible to both individuals. However, the space where the animals compete is critical in determining whether subjects demonstrate this skill. We suggest that competition intensity, as mediated by these spatial factors, may play an important role in determining the strategy chimpanzees utilize in competitive contexts. Since some strategies may not require visual perspective taking in order to be successful, chimpanzees may not always demonstrate this skill. Differences in spatial arrangement may therefore account for the conflicting results of past studies.


Social cognition Food competition Visual perspective taking 



We thank Julia Riedel, Hagen Lehmann, and Katrin Schumann for helping with data collection, and Tanja Lindner and Josefine Kalbitz for coding. We also thank Nora Tippmann for the drawings. Finally, we are very grateful to Alexandra Rosati for checking the style of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliane Bräuer
    • 1
  • Josep Call
    • 1
  • Michael Tomasello
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany

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