Michael J. Beran, Ph.D.
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September 1, 2021



Beran, M. J., Beran, M. M., Harris, E. W., & Washburn, D. A. (2005). Ordinal judgments and summation of nonvisible sets of food items by two chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and a rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 31, 351-362.

Two chimpanzees and a rhesus macaque rapidly learned the ordinal relations between 5 colors of containers (plastic eggs) when all containers of a given color contained a specific number of identical food items. All 3 animals also performed at high levels when comparing sets of containers with sets of visible food items. This indicates that the animals learned the approximate quantity of food items in containers of a given color. However, all animals failed in a summation task, in which a single container was compared with a set of 2 containers of a lesser individual quantity but a greater combined quantity. This difficulty was not overcome by sequential presentation of containers into opaque receptacles, but performance improved if the quantitative difference between sizes was very large.


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