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J Comp Psychol. 2001 Jun;115(2):181-91.

Summation and numerousness judgments of sequentially presented sets of items by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Decatur 30034, USA.


Summation and numerousness judgments by 2 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) were investigated when 2 quantities of M&Ms were presented sequentially, and the quantities were never viewed in their totality. Each M&M was visible only before placement in 1 of 2 cups. In Experiment 1, sets of 1 to 9 M&Ms were presented. In Experiment 2, the quantities in each cup were presented as 2 smaller sets (e.g., 2 + 2 vs. 4 + 1). In Experiment 3, the quantities were presented as 3 smaller sets (e.g., 2 + 2 + 3 vs. 3 + 4 + 1). In Experiment 4, an M&M was removed from 1 set before the chimpanzees' selection. In Experiments 1 and 2, the chimpanzees selected the larger quantity on significantly more trials than would be predicted by chance. In Experiments 3 and 4, 1 chimpanzee performed at a level significantly better than chance. Therefore, chimpanzees mentally represent quantity and successfully combine and compare nonvisible, sequentially presented sets of items.

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