Date of Thesis



Capuchin monkeys, Cebus sp., utilize a wide array of gestural displays in the wild, including facial displays such as lip-smacking and bare-teeth displays. In captivity, they have been shown to respond to the head orientation of humans, show sensitivity to human attentional states, as well as follow human gazes behind barriers. In this study, I investigated whether tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) would attend to and utilize the gestural cues of a conspecific to obtain a hidden reward. Two capuchins faced each other in separate compartments of an apparatus with an open field in between. The open field contained two cups with holes on one side such that only one monkey, a so-called cuing monkey, could see the reward inside one of the cups. I then moved the cups toward the other signal-receiving monkey and assessed whether it would utilize untrained cues provided by the cuing monkey to select the cup containing the reward. Two of four female capuchin monkeys learned to select the cup containing the reward significantly more often than chance. Neither of these two monkeys performed over chance spontaneously, however, and the other two monkeys never performed above chance despite many blocks of trials. Successful choices by two monkeys to obtain hidden rewards provided experimental evidence that capuchin monkeys attend to and utilize the gestural cues of conspecifics.


capuchin monkeys, gestural cues, object-choice task, cebus apella, joint-attention

Access Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science


Animal Behavior

First Advisor

Peter Judge