Ascent of Apes

  • D. J. Gillan
Conference paper
Part of the Life Sciences Research Reports book series (DAHLEM, volume 21)


Is reasoning a uniquely human ability? This article reviews experiments on reasoning in chimpanzees. In the first series of experiments, a 16 year old female chimpanzee, Sarah, demonstrated the ability to reason analogically in a variety of analogy problems. She chose the correct stimulus B’ to complete an analogy A is to A′ same as B is to B1 and chose the correct predicates to complete analogies A is to A′ same as B is to B′ and A is to A′ different from B is to C. The second series of experiments investigated transitive inference. A 6 year old female chimpanzee, Sadie, was trained on adjacent pairs from a linear series, F r E, E r D, D r C, C r B, and B r A, where the relation r was “more food than.” Sadie then was given the novel nonadjacent pairs, EB, EC, and DB; she chose E and D indicating the ability to make transitive inferences. The third series of experiments placed four chimpanzees in a reasoning task similar to a problem likely to confront chimpanzees in their natural environment. A subject had to choose between two limited food sources. Just prior to making the choice, the chimpanzee received negative information from which it could infer that food was no longer in one of the locations. The chimpanzees demonstrated their inferential abilities by consistently going to the other location.


Series Order Negative Information Analogical Reasoning Reasoning Ability Adjacent Pair 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Dr. S. Bernhard, Dahlem Konferenzen, Berlin 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. J. Gillan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Pennsylvania Primate FacilityHoneybrookUSA

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