Animal Cognition

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 667–681 | Cite as

Information seeking in capuchins (Cebus apella): A rudimentary form of metacognition?

  • Alexander Q. Vining
  • Heidi L. MarshEmail author
Original Paper


In previous research, great apes and rhesus macaques have demonstrated multiple apparently metacognitive abilities, whereas capuchin monkeys have not. The present experiment investigated whether at least a rudimentary form of metacognition might be demonstrated in capuchins if a simplified metacognitive task was used. Capuchins (Cebus apella) were required to locate a food reward hidden beneath one of two inverted cups that sat on a Plexiglas tray. In some conditions, the capuchins were shown where the food was hidden, in others they could infer its location, and in yet others they were not given information about the location of the food. On all trials, capuchins could optionally seek information about the food’s location by looking up through the Plexiglas beneath the cups. In general, capuchins did this less often when they were shown the food reward, but not when they could infer the reward’s location. These data suggest that capuchins—if metacognitive—only metacognitively control their information seeking in some conditions, particularly those in which information is presented in the visual domain. This may represent a rudimentary version of metacognitive control, in comparison with that seen in great apes and humans.


Information seeking Knowledge state Metacognition Monkeys Primates 



We wish to thank Dr. Peter Judge, Mary Gavitt, Gretchen Long, and the rest of the caretaking staff at the Bucknell University Animal Behavior Laboratory, for their assistance and support with this research. We also thank Andrew Marsh for his assistance with apparatus construction. Finally, we thank Dr. William Roberts as well as the anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. This research was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellowship awarded to H. Marsh.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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