Disposition to recognize goals in infant chimpanzees

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Do nonhuman primates attribute goals to others? Traditional studies with chimpanzees provide equivocal evidence for “mind reading” in nonhuman primates. Here we adopt looking time, a methodology commonly used with human infants to test infant chimpanzees. In this experiment, four infant chimpanzees saw computer-generated stimuli that mimicked a goal-directed behavior. The baby chimps performed as well as human infants, namely, they were sensitive to the trajectories of the objects, thus suggesting that chimpanzees may be endowed with a disposition to understand goal-directed behaviors. The theoretical implications of these results are discussed.

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