How cross-fostered chimpanzees ( Pan troglodytes ) initiate and maintain conversations

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
M.D. Bodamer, R.A Gardner
Journal of Comparative Psychology
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This study systematically sampled typical attention-getting sounds and sign language conversations between each of 4 originally cross-fostered chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), still living freely, but now in a laboratory setting, and a familiar human interlocutor. Videotape records showed that when they encountered a human interlocutor sitting alone at his desk with his back turned to them, the cross-fosterlings either left the scene or made attention-getting sounds. The only signs they made to the interlocutor’s back were noisy signs. When the human turned and faced them, the chimpanzees promptly signed to him (98% of the time) and rarely made any sounds during the ensuing signed conversations. Under systematic experimental conditions, the signed responses of the chimpanzees were appropriate to the conversational styles of the human interlocutor, confirming daily field observations.


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