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Two important elements in problem solving are the abilities to encode relevant task features and to combine multiple actions to achieve the goal. The authors investigated these 2 elements in a task in which gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) and orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) had to use a tool to retrieve an out-of-reach reward. Subjects were able to select tools of an appropriate length to reach the reward even when the position of the reward and tools were not simultaneously visible. When presented with tools that were too short to retrieve the reward, subjects were more likely to refuse to use them than when tools were the appropriate length. Subjects were proficient at using tools in sequence to retrieve the reward.

Original publication




Journal article


J Comp Psychol

Publication Date





23 - 32


Animals, Female, Gorilla gorilla, Male, Pilot Projects, Pongo pygmaeus, Problem Solving, Psychomotor Performance, Reward