Peter G. Judge, Professor of Psychology & Animal Behavior
Previous research has suggested that several primate species may be capable of reasoning by exclusion based on the finding that they can locate a hidden object when given information about where the object is not. The present research replicated and extended the literature by testing 2 Old World monkey species, lion-tailed macaques (Macaca silenus) and a hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas), and 2 New World species, capuchin monkeys (Sapajus apella) and squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). The New World monkeys were tested on the traditional 2-way object choice task, and all 4 species were also tested on a more complex 3-way object choice task. In addition, the squirrel monkeys were tested on a 2-way object choice task with auditory information. The results showed that, whereas the Old World species were able to infer by exclusion on the 3-object task, some of the capuchin monkeys had difficulty on each of the 2- and 3-cup tasks. All but 1 of the squirrel monkeys failed to infer successfully, and their strategies appeared to differ between the visual and auditory versions of the task. Taken together, this research suggests that the ability to succeed on this inference task may be present throughout Old World monkey species, but is fragile in the New World species tested thus far.
Marsh, Heidi L.; Vining, Alexander Q.; Levendoski, Emma K.; and Judge, Peter G. “Inference by Exclusion in Lion-Tailed Macaques (Macaca silenus), a Hamadryas Baboon (Papio hamadryas), Capuchins (Sapajus apella), and Squirrel Monkeys (Saimiri sciureus).” Journal of Comparative Psychology 129, no. 3 (2015) : 256-267.