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A Study of Problem Solving By Gibbons

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Four gibbons were presented with five types of string-pulling problems based on those used by KÖHLER to demonstrate insight. Contrary to the results of previous research on problem-solving ability in gibbons, all of the problems were solved quickly and efficiently. Their success is attributed to the fact that, in the present research, the strings were elevated so as not to be lying on a flat surface. Such a design is more suitable to the anatomy and sensory capacities of these animals and more in accord with the types of manipulable objects which are found in their natural environment. At least one of the problem types was solved insightfully. It is concluded that the sudden appearance of a complete, adaptive ("correct"), complex response sequence following a period of non-problem-directed responding which in turn follows a period of non-adaptive ("incorrect") attempts at problem solution objectively characterize the qualitatively unique learning process known as insight. It is suggested that objective identification of qualitatively unique learning processes is a prerequisite to the meaningful analysis of tool-using behavior.

Affiliations: 1: (The University Chicago, Chicago, Ill., U.S.A

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