Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



2005. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 30: 59-67; Copyright © 2005 Purzycki


Whether or not chimpanzees have the ability to mentally represent others' mental states or theory of mind (ToM) has yet to be definitively established. This results from three problems. First, modular theory of mind accounts lead researchers to adopt an either/or approach to psychological faculties which obfuscates both within- and across-species variability. Second, present research continues to rely on the continued trend to polarize nature and nurture. Third, the bulk of the work compares humans with chimpanzees rather than looking at the entire range of primate species. I propose "degree approach" by way of the Integrated Causal Model which particularizes the key components to ToM while maintaining the tenets of modularity theory. According to this account, while chimpanzees may not have a ToM that is equal to our own, they nevertheless exhibit behaviors that are indeed indicative of having one as illustrated by comparison to other extant primate research.

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