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Folk Physics for ApesThe Chimpanzee's theory of how the world works$
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Daniel Povinelli

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198572190

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198572190.001.0001

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The trap-tube problem

The trap-tube problem

(p.108) Chapter 4 THE TRAP-TUBE PROBLEM
Folk Physics for Apes

James E. Reaux

Daniel J. Povinelli

Oxford University Press

This chapter reports the results of an investigation of chimpanzees' ability to solve the trap-tube task that was originally designed by Visalberghi and Limongelli (1994). This task requires the subjects to insert a probe into one end of a tube in order to push out a food reward. In general, the results of these tests favor the hypothesis that chimpanzees did not understand how the trap functioned in the context of the causal interactions among the tool, the reward, and the trap itself. Clearly, there are any number of reasons why this may be true. One is that chimpanzees do not invoke a priori theoretical concepts (such as gravity) to mediate their use of tools. A second possibility, though, is that something about the nature of the trap-tube task is artificially difficult.

Keywords:   a priori concepts, trap-tube test, artificial difficulty

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