Like humans, monkeys too have the ability to plan ahead

December 7th, 2007 - 2:18 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 7 (ANI): In humans the way of grasping an object, no matter how uncomfortable, is typically influenced more by their knowledge of what they intend to do with it rather than its immediate appearance. Now, a study has found that monkeys also follow the end-state comfort effect.

End-state comfort effect is when we adopt initially unusual, and perhaps uncomfortable postures to make it easier to actually use an object.

For instance, waiters will pick up an inverted glass with their thumb pointing down if they plan to pour water into the glass. While grabbing thumb-down may feel awkward at first, it allows the waiter to be more comfortable when the glass is turned over and water poured inside.

Psychologists at the Pennsylvania State University, Dan Weiss, Jason Wark, and David Rosenbaum decided to see if cotton-top tamarins (a non-tool user species), like humans would also show the end-state comfort effect.

In the first experiment, the researchers presented the monkeys with a small cup containing a marshmallow.

The cup was either suspended upright or upside down. The monkeys grabbed the inverted cup with their thumb pointing down, thereby behaving much like human adults.

In the second experiment, the monkeys were confronted with a new handle shape and still displayed grasps that were consistent with end-state comfort.

The authors suggest that formulating relatively long-term motor plans is a necessary but not sufficient condition for tool use.

Our results may be taken to suggest that the reason tamarins dont use tools in the wild is not that they lack the ability to plan ahead, but rather that the scope of their planning is limited, the researchers said.

The findings will appear in Psychological Science. (ANI)

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