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Volume 13 Issue 2 (March 2010), Pages 265-406

Intuitions about gravity and solidity in great apes: the tubes task (pages 320-330)


We investigated whether great apes, like human infants, monkeys and dogs, are subject to a strong gravity bias when tested with the tubes task, and – in case of mastery – what the source of competence on the tubes task is. We presented 22 apes with three versions of the tubes task, in which an object is dropped down a tube connected to one of three potential hiding places and the subject is required to locate the object. In two versions, apes were confronted with a causal tube that varied in the amount of perceptual information it provided (i.e. presence or absence of acoustic cues). The third version was a non‐causal adaptation of the task in which a painted line ‘connected’ dropping and hiding places. Results indicate that apes neither have a reliable gravity bias when tested with the tubes, nor understand the causal function of the tube. Even though there is evidence that they can integrate tube‐related causal information to localize the object, they seem to depend mainly on non‐causal inferences when searching for an invisibly displaced object.

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