Development of self-recognition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

A Lin, Kim Bard, J. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) demonstrate the ability to recognize themselves in mirrors, yet investigations of the development of self-recognition in chimpanzees are sparse. Twelve young chimpanzees, grouped by age, were given mirror exposure and tested for self-recognition and contingent movement. All 6 juveniles, 4 and 5 years old, exhibited mirror-guided, mark-directed behavior and clear evidence of self-recognition. In contrast, among the infants, only the oldest group of 2'/2-year-olds exhibited clear evidence of self-recognition. All chimpanzees exhibited both self-directed behaviors and contingent movements. These results suggest that self-recognition occurs at a slightly older age in chimpanzees than in human infants. In humans, self-recognition is linked with other cognitive abilities. The results conform to the general pattern that great apes exhibit many cognitive skills comparable to those of 2-year-old humans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-127
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1992


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