Are monkeys sensitive to informativeness: An experimental study with baboons (Papio papio)


  • Reboul Anne
  • Mascaro Olivier
  • Claidière Nicolas
  • Fagot Joël


  • Metacognition
  • Primates
  • Communications
  • Leopards
  • Baboons
  • Reaction time
  • Monkeys
  • Sensory cues

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Informativeness (defined as reduction of uncertainty) is central in human communication. In the present study, we investigate baboons’ sensitivity to informativeness by manipulating the informativity of a cue relative to a response display and by allowing participants to anticipate their answers or to wait for a revealed answer (with variable delays). Our hypotheses were that anticipations would increase with informativity, while response times to revealed trials would decrease with informativity. These predictions were verified in Experiment 1. In Experiments 2 and 3, we manipulated rewards (rewarding anticipation responses at 70% only) to see whether reward tracking alone could account for the results in Experiment 1. We observed that the link between anticipations and informativeness disappeared, but not the link between informativeness and decreased RTs for revealed trials. Additionally, in all three experiments, the number of correct answers in revealed trials with fast reaction times (< 250ms) increased with informativeness. We conclude that baboons are sensitive to informativeness as an ecologically sound means to tracking reward.

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