Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Does the Chimpanzee Have Theory of Mind?

  • Adam SeeEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3117-1

Definition

A landmark paper in the philosophy and science of animal minds. David Premack and Guy Woodruff (1978) describe a series of innovative experiments with an adult chimpanzee, Sarah, whom the authors conclude can attribute mental states to her trainers.

Introduction

Premack and Woodruff’s “Does the Chimpanzee Have a Theory of Mind?” was published in 1978. It is amongst the most anthologized papers in the wide variety of disciplines that constitute contemporary animal studies. In the article, a single adult chimpanzee named Sarah is the subject of a series of experiments designed to assess her ability to attribute mental states such as goals, intentions, knowledge, and ignorance to humans. This general ability is indicative of a theory of mind or mindreading– a capacity long thought to be unique to our species. Premack and Woodruff concluded that Sarah did, in fact, possess a theory of mind. While the author’s methods were widely respected, their conclusion was subject to...

Keywords

Logical Problem Behavioral Rule Mental State Attribution Adult Chimpanzee Animal Mind 
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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References

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CUNY Graduate CenterNew YorkUSA