Tactical use of unimodal and bimodal communication by chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes

David A. Leavens, Autumn B. Hostetter, Michael J. Wesley, William D. Hopkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Do chimpanzees tailor their communication in accordance with the attentional status of a human observer? We presented 57 chimpanzees with three experimental conditions in randomized order: an experimenter offered a banana to the focal subject (Focal), to a cagemate of the focal subject (In-Cage) and to a chimpanzee in an adjacent cage (Adjacent) while a second experimenter recorded the first and second responses of the focal subject in all three conditions. The chimpanzees' behaviour was mostly visual or bimodal in the Focal condition, changing to auditory behaviour or disengagement in the In-Cage and Adjacent conditions. Thus, with no explicit training and on their first trials in all instances, the chimpanzees tactically deployed their communicative behaviours in the visual and auditory domains in accordance with the manipulated attentional and intentional status of a human observer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-476
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Frans B. M. de Waal and Darren Long at Living Links who provided logistical support, Kim A. Bard, University of Portsmouth, for helpful commentary and critique and Janette Wallis, Marc Hauser, Richard Wrangham, John Mitani and Andrew Whiten for their helpful discussions of chimpanzee raspberries. We also thank the anonymous referees for insightful and authoritative comments that have improved the manuscript. D.A.L. thanks the former School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences, University of Sussex for generous support. The study was supported by NIH grants NS-42867, NS-36605, HD-38051 and RR-00165 to the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and the Living Links Center for the Advanced Study of Ape and Human Evolution.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Tactical use of unimodal and bimodal communication by chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this