Abstract # 2358 Event # 128:

Scheduled for Saturday, June 21, 2008 08:00 AM-08:10 AM: Session 14 (Meeting Room 1GHI) Oral Presentation

The effects of early care on joint attention in Pan, Gorilla, and Pongo

C. Pitman1,2 and R. Shumaker1,2,3,4
1Great Ape Trust, 4200 S.E. 44th Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50320, USA, 2Iowa State University, 3Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, 4Drake University
     Joint attention is the ability to follow, share, and direct the attention of another individual. This skill is significant because it is the foundation upon which more sophisticated socio-cognitive skills are constructed in humans. It has been suggested that the quality of care received during infancy is related to increased production of joint attention in humans. The effects of care style (responsive or basic) and caregiver type (mother or human) during the first 6 months of life on joint attention in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), bonobos (Pan paniscus), gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), and orangutans (Pong sp.) were investigated in this study. Participants (N=24) engaged in joint attention with both conspecifics and humans more often in experimental trials compared to control trials [Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test, a=0.0001]. Repeated measure ANOVAs revealed no effect of care style [F(1,19.4)=2.97, p=0.10] or caregiver type [F(1, 19.4)=0.0003, p=0.99] on the ability to follow the gaze of conspecifics or humans. Additionally, there was no effect of care style [F(1,21.1)=0.23, p=0.64] or caregiver type [F(1, 21.1)=0.06, p=0.81] on the ability share attention with others around an object. These results demonstrate that great apes engaged in joint attention with conspecifics and humans in ways that suggest they possess an understanding of others as intentional agents, and that joint attention is a durable cognitive process.