Chimp tests

Leavens, David, Boysen, Sarah T, Bulloch, Megan J, Furlong, Ellen E and Bard, Kim A (2011) Chimp tests. pp. 32-33.

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In her article on the mental lives of animals, Emma Young wrote, "Chimps... just don't get abstract physical concepts, like weight, gravity and the transfer of force" (2 July, p 41). She cited work by Daniel Povinelli, in which a group of orphaned, institutionalised chimpanzees often failed to select a tool with the correct properties to retrieve food. Yet when this same task was given to chimpanzees kept in unusually enriched captive circumstances - either raised as part of a human family or in very close association with people - they performed very well (Animal Cognition, vol 11, p 83). More generally, apes that experience enriched captive rearing environments perform well in tool-using tasks requiring sophisticated manipulations of weight, gravity and force (Animal Cognition,vol 12, p 85). Wild chimpanzees use tools to crack nuts, spear animals, probe termite mounds and soak up liquids, all of which require the application of abstract physical concepts during tool preparation' It is therefore absurd to use the behaviour of those subjected to institutionalisation as a generalisation of all chimps. It has been demonstrated that orphaned children brought up in institutions experience severe cognitive delays. Moreover, the longer they spend in these settings, the worse the impact (Science, vol318 P l937). Why would chimpanzees be any different? Brighton, UK, and Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Issue number 2824
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: David Leavens
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:36
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2013 09:33
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