Great apes’ strategies to map spatial relations

A. Hribar, Daniel Haun, J. Call

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated reasoning about spatial relational similarity in three great ape species: chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans. Apes were presented with three spatial mapping tasks in which they were required to find a reward in an array of three cups, after observing a reward being hidden in a different array of three cups. To obtain a food reward, apes needed to choose the cup that was in the same relative position (i.e., on the left) as the baited cup in the other array. The three tasks differed in the constellation of the two arrays. In Experiment 1, the arrays were placed next to each other, forming a line. In Experiment 2, the positioning of the two arrays varied each trial, being placed either one behind the other in two rows, or next to each other, forming a line. Finally, in Experiment 3, the two arrays were always positioned one behind the other in two rows, but misaligned. Results suggested that apes compared the two arrays and recognized that they were similar in some way. However, we believe that instead of mapping the left–left, middle–middle, and right–right cups from each array, they mapped the cups that shared the most similar relations to nearby landmarks (table’s visual boundaries).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-523
Number of pages13
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


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