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Primates

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 317–326 | Cite as

Mirror self-recognition: a review and critique of attempts to promote and engineer self-recognition in primates

  • James R. Anderson
  • Gordon G. GallupJr.
Review Article

Abstract

We review research on reactions to mirrors and self-recognition in nonhuman primates, focusing on methodological issues. Starting with the initial demonstration in chimpanzees in 1970 and subsequent attempts to extend this to other species, self-recognition in great apes is discussed with emphasis on spontaneous manifestations of mirror-guided self-exploration as well as spontaneous use of the mirror to investigate foreign marks on otherwise nonvisible body parts—the mark test. Attempts to show self-recognition in other primates are examined with particular reference to the lack of convincing examples of spontaneous mirror-guided self-exploration, and efforts to engineer positive mark test responses by modifying the test or using conditioning techniques. Despite intensive efforts to demonstrate self-recognition in other primates, we conclude that to date there is no compelling evidence that prosimians, monkeys, or lesser apes—gibbons and siamangs—are capable of mirror self-recognition.

Keywords

Great apes Lesser apes Monkeys Self-recognition Awareness Mirror-guided behavior Mark test 

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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyKyoto University Graduate School of LettersKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyState University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyUSA

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