Chimpanzee Mind Theory

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‘Theory of mind’ is the idea that humans can interpret and understand the desires of others. Psychologists have argued that the ability to appreciate the minds of others is a fundamental aspect of human development and intelligence. Searching for this same capacity for mind-reading in non-humans has long been an area of interest in Psychology, as this could pave the way for a fuller understanding of intelligence in animals. This essay begins by describing the first study into theory of mind in non-humans, specifically in Chimpanzees. Ground-breaking as the research was, limitations will be identified in terms of human interference and behavioural norms. Similar studies will be discussed which build on the initial research in an attempt to better …show more content…
Call and Tomaello (2008) were involved in a new study on chimpanzees called the food competition paradigm. These experiments centred on the interactions between a submissive and dominant chimpanzee in the presence of food. With both chimpanzees at opposite sides of a room and food placed in the centre, a number of conditions which either enhanced or reduced line of sight to the other chimpanzee were constructed. Given the established roles between the two, it was expect the subordinate Chimpanzee would neglect to retrieve the food when seeing that the dominant chimpanzee could also see it, and this is exactly what the results showed (Hewson et al. 2015). This demonstrates an acute awareness of another beings ability to see, working around their perceptions of the world in front of them as well as their own. Pertaining also to a flexible knowledge through which these animals can adapt to others around them, giving further weight to the idea that non-humans, in this case Chimpanzees, possess the characteristics associated with theory of mind. Nonetheless, there were still issues concerning the validity of results. As with the original study, it could be said that behavioural normalities were simply being highlighted. On the other hand, one might argue that the confined environment of a laboratory presents actions that only …show more content…
This is particularly true of studies into one of our closest non-human relatives; Chimpanzees. In these examples, there is evidence of a clear understanding of a humans goals, as well as the intentions and desires of those of the same species. Studies into dogs and other animals have gone further in showing more complex comprehension of human vision and attention states. That being said, given the limitations of controlled environments and the potential for interference, as well as the difficulty of identifying exactly what constitutes a theory of mind, it cannot yet be said with certainty that there exists a theory of mind in non-humans that is comparable to our

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