Great apes pass a false-belief test, hinting at a theory of mind

Image of a chimpanzee.

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Martin Fisch / Flickr

Theory of mind is the recognition that others have mental
states, just as you do. It is the ability to put yourself in
someone else’s shoes, to acknowledge that their mental
state—their beliefs, their perspectives, how their experiences
have shaped them—differs from your own. And therefore that, when
people act a certain way, they are responding not to an objective
reality but to their own particular perceptions of that reality,
which are likely not the same as yours.

False-belief understanding lies at the crux of this concept. It
involves understanding when another person has a mistaken belief,
and a prerequisite for that understanding is figuring out what the
other person believes. And now there’s some evidence that we’re not
the only species with it.

Theory of mind

Humans possess this theory of mind, along with its all-important
false-belief understanding. But it is still an open question
whether humans alone possess it. Our closest relatives, the great
apes—bonobos, chimpanzees, and orangutans—have exhibited theory
of mind in some experiments.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Great apes pass a false-belief test, hinting at a theory of mind