Animal Cognition

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 97–105 | Cite as

Object permanence in adult common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus): not everything is an “A-not-B” error that seems to be one

  • Anna Kis
  • Márta Gácsi
  • Friederike Range
  • Zsófia Virányi
Original Paper


In this paper, we describe a behaviour pattern similar to the “A-not-B” error found in human infants and young apes in a monkey species, the common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). In contrast to the classical explanation, recently it has been suggested that the “A-not-B” error committed by human infants is at least partially due to misinterpretation of the hider’s ostensively communicated object hiding actions as potential ‘teaching’ demonstrations during the A trials. We tested whether this so-called Natural Pedagogy hypothesis would account for the A-not-B error that marmosets commit in a standard object permanence task, but found no support for the hypothesis in this species. Alternatively, we present evidence that lower level mechanisms, such as attention and motivation, play an important role in committing the “A-not-B” error in marmosets. We argue that these simple mechanisms might contribute to the effect of undeveloped object representational skills in other species including young non-human primates that commit the A-not-B error.


Common marmoset “A-not-B” error Motivation Attention Behavioural flexibility 



We thank Ludwig Huber and Ádám Miklósi for their support and András Kosztolányi for his help with the statistics. Funded by the ÖAD Foundation (grant 74öu3).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Kis
    • 1
  • Márta Gácsi
    • 1
  • Friederike Range
    • 2
  • Zsófia Virányi
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EthologyEötvös UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Department of Cognitive BiologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  3. 3.Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition ResearchAltenbergAustria

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