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Chimpanzees (Pan spp.) were tested on a habituation/dishabituation paradigm that was originally developed to test for comprehension of causality in very young human infants. Three versions of the test were used: a food item being moved by a hand, a human pushing another human off a chair to obtain a food item, and a film clip of natural chimpanzee behaviour (capturing and eating a monkey). Chimpanzees exhibited similar results to those obtained with human infants, with significantly elevated levels of looking on the dishabituation trials. Since the level of response was significantly greater on natural/unnatural sequences than on unnatural/natural sequences, we conclude that the chimpanzees were not responding just to novelty but rather to events that infringed their sense of natural causation.

Original publication




Journal article


Anim Cogn

Publication Date





60 - 66


Animals, Association Learning, Awareness, Concept Formation, Female, Habituation, Psychophysiologic, Male, Pan paniscus, Pan troglodytes, Perception