Do squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) and capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) predict that looking leads to touching?

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Abstract

Squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) and capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) were tested using an expectancy violation procedure to assess whether they use an actor's gaze direction, signaled by congruent head and eye orientation, to predict subsequent behavior. The monkeys visually habituated to a repeated sequence in which the actor (a familiar human or a puppet) looked at an object and then picked it up, but they did not react strongly when the actor looked at an object but then picked up another object. Capuchin monkeys' responses in the puppet condition were slightly more suggestive of expectancy. There was no differential responding to congruent versus incongruent look-touch sequences when familiarization trials were omitted. The weak findings contrast with a strongly positive result previously reported for tamarin monkeys. Additional evidence is required before concluding that behavior prediction based on gaze cues typifies primates; other approaches for studying how they process attention cues are indicated.

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