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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-table problem

The trap-table problem

(p.132) Chapter 5 The trap-table problem
Folk Physics for Apes

Daniel J. Povinelli

James E. Reaux

Oxford University Press

This chapter reports the results of an investigation of chimpanzees' ability to solve the trap-table problem, wherein chimpanzees were required to reason about the interaction between a simple tool (a rake), a goal object (a food reward), and the substrate (the table surface) along which the goal object moved. The trap-table task was designed so that it would embody the same logical causal interactions inherent in the trap-tube problem, but would present these interactions in a manner that might be more obvious to the apes. The results emphasize two separate issues related to the nature of chimpanzees' understanding of tool use. First, chimpanzees are capable of learning to control the interactions among a tool, a desired goal object, and a substrate which affects the movement of both, and some of them may learn to do so fairly quickly. Furthermore, in the context of doing so, chimpanzees appear to learn a number of relevant, and very specific relations among the tool, the reward object, and the substrate.

Keywords:   interactions, relations, trap-tube problem, learning

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