Goal attribution to inanimate moving objects by Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata)

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Humans interpret others' goals based on motion information, and this capacity contributes to our mental reasoning. The present study sought to determine whether Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) perceive goal-directedness in chasing events depicted by two geometric particles. In Experiment 1, two monkeys and adult humans were trained to discriminate between Chasing and Random sequences. We then introduced probe stimuli with various levels of correlation between the particle trajectories to examine whether participants performed the task using higher correlation. Participants chose stimuli with the highest correlations by chance, suggesting that correlations were not the discriminative cue. Experiment 2 examined whether participants focused on particle proximity. Participants differentiated between Chasing and Control sequences; the distance between two particles was identical in both. Results indicated that, like humans, the Japanese macaques did not use physical cues alone to perform the discrimination task and integrated the cues spontaneously. This suggests that goal attribution resulting from motion information is a widespread cognitive phenotype in primate species.


  • Scientific Reports

    Scientific Reports (7), 2017-01-05

    Springer Nature


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