Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? 30 years later

Trends Cogn Sci. 2008 May;12(5):187-92. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2008.02.010.


On the 30th anniversary of Premack and Woodruff's seminal paper asking whether chimpanzees have a theory of mind, we review recent evidence that suggests in many respects they do, whereas in other respects they might not. Specifically, there is solid evidence from several different experimental paradigms that chimpanzees understand the goals and intentions of others, as well as the perception and knowledge of others. Nevertheless, despite several seemingly valid attempts, there is currently no evidence that chimpanzees understand false beliefs. Our conclusion for the moment is, thus, that chimpanzees understand others in terms of a perception-goal psychology, as opposed to a full-fledged, human-like belief-desire psychology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Concept Formation / physiology
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Pan troglodytes / psychology*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Species Specificity