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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 flimsy-tool problem

The flimsy-tool problem

Folk Physics for Apes

Daniel J. Povinelli

James E. Reaux

Laura A. Teall

Oxford University Press

This chapter reports the results of several studies that examined whether chimpanzees possessed a conceptual understanding of the relation between the rigidity of a tool and its ability to move an object. To this end, apes were confronted with two similar rakes: one of which had a rigid base that could easily drag an apple to within their reach, and the other of which had a flimsy, pliant base that could not move the apple. After allowing apes to play with these rakes freely for several sessions, researchers introduced the rakes into a formal testing situation to determine if the animals would select the one that could successfully retrieve the apple.

Keywords:   rakes, tool rigidity, conceptual understanding

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