Book Chapter

The role of experience in tool use.



Martin-Ordas G (2016) The role of experience in tool use.. In: Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

In one of Köhler’s classical problem-solving experiments, chimpanzees were presented with an out-of-reach banana suspended from the ceiling (Köhler 1925). Importantly, the only available “tools” in the room to solve the problem were some boxes. Chimpanzees’ first reaction was to try to directly reach the banana. After a few initial unsuccessful attempts, several chimpanzees suddenly started to stack the boxes and eventually obtained the reward. When explaining their performance, Köhler stressed the insightful nature of chimpanzees’ responses and argued that his chimpanzees solved the problem by an immediate reasoning process that reorganized their previous individual experiences (e.g., moving boxes, box in relation to reward) into a mental representation that allowed them to find the solution (Köhler 1925). However, Köhler’s explanations were criticized since little was known about chimpanzees’ previous learning history with boxes.

Publication date31/12/2016
Publication date online10/12/2016
Place of publicationCham, Switzerland

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Dr Gema Martin-Ordas

Dr Gema Martin-Ordas

Senior Lecturer, Psychology