Techniques, demands and success in structure construction in tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella)
Rosengart, Carrie Robin
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Previous research on children has revealed three strategies used to combine nesting cups into stable seriated structures. These techniques may differ in cognitive complexity with the putatively most advanced of these emerging as the dominant strategy at about age three. Six monkeys' (Cebus apella) combinatorial strategies and successes at the same tasks presented to children were evaluated. The current study examined a) if unguided experience is sufficient to result in a shift by the monkeys towards the more advanced methods, b) if the techniques used are dependent on the type of object combined, and c) if strategy selection can be altered by specific training history. Some monkeys showed a preference for the putatively most complex technique. All three environmental and experiential factors produced a change in strategy selection for some individuals, suggesting that combinatorial strategy is a product of the dynamic influences of innate tendencies, environmental circumstances and prior experiences.