Searching Beneath the Shelf in Macaque Monkeys: Evidence for a Gravity Bias or a Foraging Bias?

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Abstract

The reasons underpinning search biases in 2 species of macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta and Macaca arctoides) were explored over the course of 3 experiments requiring monkeys to search for a hidden food reward. The results reveal that monkeys are adept at exploiting perceptual cues to locate a food reward but are unable to use physical constraints such as solidity as cues to the reward's location. Monkeys prefer to search for a food reward beneath a solid shelf, not because they have an expectation that the reward should be there, but rather because, in the absence of usable cues, this bias emerges as a default search option. It is hypothesized that this bias may have its roots in a history of competition for food resources.

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