Kohler's Chimps

This week, in my extremely interesting psychology class, we learned about Kohler's chimps.  Kohler was observing how chimps learn by creating puzzles for them to solve in order to get their reward: a banana.  First he put them in a barn where they could see the banana outside through a crack in the door.  They couldn't reach the banana, so they tried to use a bamboo pole that was in the barn.  This was too short, so they took two poles and stuck one inside the other to make a longer pole and reach the banana.  For the next task, Kohler hung a banana so that it was too high for the chips to reach, but he left a couple of crates in the barn with them.  They stacked the crates and got the banana.

Next he hung the banana again, but left only poles in the barn.  While the chimps were still working out how to solve the puzzle, Kohler came in to feed them.  One of the chimps, in a very pouty sort of way, took him by the hand and led him over to the banana.  As soon as they were underneath it, she dropped his hand and climbed up him onto his shoulders and snatched her snack -- proof that most problems have more than one solution.  Eventually the chimps learned a sort of pole vaulting techniqe where they scurried up the pole and grabbed the banana before the pole fell over.

Photos are from Kohler's book "The Mentality of Apes", published in 1925.


  1. The very earliest I might return to Mexico City would be Sunday, January 11. However, it probably won't be until a few days after that. (As you can see, I have not yet bought my plane ticket.)

    And I think frequently about what I'll do when I return to KC and have to face real cold. Although the problem in one way is more serious here, since houses aren't heated. So, yeah, it only gets down to 45 degrees, at the coldest, but that means that it's very cold in my unheated bedroom with windows that don't close ... So although it's much colder outside in Kansas City, at least houses are warm inside!



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