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Volume 2 Issue 1 (March 1999), Pages 1-113

Gravity biases in a non‐human primate? (pages 35-41)

Pre‐school children expect falling objects to travel in a straight line even when there are clear physical mechanisms that deviate the object's path (Hood, 1995). The current study set out to determine whether this expectancy is limited to humans. Cotton‐top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus oedipus), a New World monkey species, were tested on Hood's (1995) experimental task where objects are dropped down a chimney connected by an opaque tube to one of three containers. Like human children, there was a significant tendency to search in the container underneath the chimney where the food was dropped on the first trial, even though aligned chimneys and containers were never connected. These search errors suggest that there may be a gravity bias that operates when both primate species fail to understand the constraints operating on object trajectories. Unlike human children however, tamarins were generally more likely to perseverate in making errors even though repeated testing and cost incentives were used.

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