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Wild-born Orangutans (Pongo abelii) engage in triadic interactions during play


Gruber, Thibaud (2014). Wild-born Orangutans (Pongo abelii) engage in triadic interactions during play. International Journal of Primatology, 35(2):411-424.

Abstract

It has long been held that triadic interactions, or interactions between individuals that include shared perception and goals concerning an outside entity, require elaborate cognitive processes such as joint attention. With their connection to shared intentionality, triadic interactions have been a key topic of interest for developmental and evolutionary psychologists, notably when making comparisons between humans and other ape species. There is good evidence that chimpanzees and bonobos engage in triadic interactions; however, convincing evidence for orangutans are more limited and so far have been found only in the context of feeding. I engaged 11 wild-born sanctuary orangutans through the medium of a stick, allowing them to decide how to use the object and how to interact with me. The participating orangutans developed idiosyncratic ways of using the stick and engaging with me during the activity, and six of them alternated their gaze between the stick and me. When I interrupted the activity, the participating orangutans displayed more numerous and different behaviors than before the interruption to actively reengage me in the game. Much like human infants, they appeared more interested in the social interaction than in the stick. These findings confirm that triadic interactions occur in nonenculturated orangutans and are consistent with studies of other nonhuman great ape species, which also show triadic interactions, suggesting that joint attention and potentially shared intentionality may have an early origin in our evolutionary history.

Abstract

It has long been held that triadic interactions, or interactions between individuals that include shared perception and goals concerning an outside entity, require elaborate cognitive processes such as joint attention. With their connection to shared intentionality, triadic interactions have been a key topic of interest for developmental and evolutionary psychologists, notably when making comparisons between humans and other ape species. There is good evidence that chimpanzees and bonobos engage in triadic interactions; however, convincing evidence for orangutans are more limited and so far have been found only in the context of feeding. I engaged 11 wild-born sanctuary orangutans through the medium of a stick, allowing them to decide how to use the object and how to interact with me. The participating orangutans developed idiosyncratic ways of using the stick and engaging with me during the activity, and six of them alternated their gaze between the stick and me. When I interrupted the activity, the participating orangutans displayed more numerous and different behaviors than before the interruption to actively reengage me in the game. Much like human infants, they appeared more interested in the social interaction than in the stick. These findings confirm that triadic interactions occur in nonenculturated orangutans and are consistent with studies of other nonhuman great ape species, which also show triadic interactions, suggesting that joint attention and potentially shared intentionality may have an early origin in our evolutionary history.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:10 Feb 2014 13:05
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 08:40
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0164-0291
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-013-9745-1

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