CZAAWE Resource Article

Making inferences about the location of hidden food: Social dog, causal ape
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Comparative Psychology
Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and great apes from the genus Pan were tested on a series of object choice tasks. In each task, the location of hidden food was indicated for subjects by some kind of communicative, behavioral, or physical cue. On the basis of differences in the ecologies of these 2 genera, as well as on previous research, the authors hypothesized that dogs should be especially skillful in using human communicative cues such as the pointing gesture, whereas apes should be especially skillful in using physical, causal cues such as food in a cup making noise when it is shaken. The overall pattern of performance by the 2 genera strongly supported this social-dog, causal-ape hypothesis. This result is discussed in terms of apes' adaptations for complex, extractive foraging and dogs' adaptations, during the domestication process, for cooperative communication with humans.