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Apes’ tracking of objects and collections

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2013
Author Cacchione Trix, Hrubesch Christine & Call Josep,
Project Core knowledge revisited: Effects of fission, fusion and shape transformation on infants’ ability to represent inanimate and animate objects
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Swiss Journal of Psychology
Volume (Issue) 73
Page(s) 47 - 52
Title of proceedings Swiss Journal of Psychology


Recent research suggests that great apes are less vulnerable to cohesion violations than human infants. In contrast to human infants, apes successfully track nonsolid substances or split solid objects through occlusion (Cacchione & Call, 2010a; Cacchione, Hrubesch, & Call, 2012ab). The present study aims to investigate whether great apes lower vulnerability to cohesion violations also pertains to their tracking of collections. While even very young human infants appreciate the continuous existence of solid bound objects, they fail to show similar intuitions when tracking collections of objects (Chiang & Wynn, 2000). In a manual search task inspired by recent infant research, we tested whether human’s closest relatives, great apes, would show a similar contrast in their reasoning about single solid objects and objects within collections. The results suggest that in contrast to human infants great apes appreciate the continuous existence of objects within collections and successfully track them through occlusion. This confirms the view that great apes are generally less vulnerable to cohesion violations than human infants.