Do chimpanzees reason logically?

Jan M. Engelmann, Lou M. Haux, Christoph Völter, Hanna Schleihauf, Josep Call, Hannes Rakoczy, Esther Herrmann

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Psychologists disagree about the development of logical concepts such as or and not. While some theorists argue that infants reason logically, others maintain that logical inference is contingent on linguistic abilities and emerges around age 4. In this Registered Report, we conducted five experiments on logical reasoning in chimpanzees. Subjects (N = 16; 10 females; M = 24 years) participated in the same setup that has been administered to children: the two-, three-, and four-cup-task. Chimpanzees performed above chance in the two-cup-, but not in the three-cup-task. Furthermore, chimpanzees selected the logically correct option more often in the test than the control condition of the four-cup-task. We discuss possible interpretations of these findings and conclude that our results are most consistent with non-deductive accounts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1102-1116
JournalChild Development
Issue number5
Early online date18 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


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