We investigated problem solving abilities of capuchin monkeys via the "floating object problem," a task in which the subject must use creative problem solving to retrieve a favored food item from the bottom of a clear tube. Some great apes have solved this problem by adding water to raise the object to a level at which it can be easily grabbed. We presented seven capuchins with the task over eight trials (four "dry" and four "wet"). None of the subjects solved the task, indicating that no capuchin demonstrated insightful problem solving under these experimental conditions. We then investigated whether capuchins would emulate a solution to the task. Seven subjects observed a human model solve the problem by pouring water from a cup into the tube, which brought the object to the top of the tube, allowing the subject to retrieve it. Subjects were then allowed to interact freely with an unfilled tube containing the object in the presence of water and objects that could be used to solve the task. While most subjects were unable to solve the task after viewing a demonstrator solve it, one subject did so, but in a unique way. Our results are consistent with some previous results in great ape species and indicate that capuchins do not spontaneously solve the floating object problem via insight.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Renner, E., Abramo, A.M., Hambright, M.K., & Phillips, K.A. (2017). Insightful problem solving and emulation in brown capuchin monkeys. Animal Cognition, 20(3), 531-536. doi:10.1007/s10071-017-1080-z