Indexical and referential pointing in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Leavens, David, Hopkins, W. D. and Bard, K. A. (1996) Indexical and referential pointing in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 110 (4). pp. 346-353. ISSN 07357036

Full text not available from this repository.


The spontaneous index finger and other referential pointing in 3 adult, laboratory chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) who have not received language training is reported. Of 256 total observed points, 254 were emitted in the presence of a human to objects in the environment; therefore, the points were communicative. Indicators of intentional communication used by the subjects included attention-getting behaviors, gaze alternation, and persistence until reward. Thus, pointing by these chimpanzees was intentionally communicative. These data imply that perspective-taking and referential communication are generalized hominoid traits, given appropriate eliciting contexts. Index finger pointing was more frequent with the subjects' dominant hands. This study refutes claims that indexical or referential pointing is species-unique to humans or dependent on linguistic competence or explicit training.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: David Leavens
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:46
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2012 12:33
📧 Request an update