Self-awareness and the emergence of mind in primates


  • Gordon G. Gallup Jr.

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany
    • Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY 12222
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To date humans, chimpanzees, and orangutans are the only species which have been shown capable of recognizing themselves in mirrors. Several species of macaques have now been provided with years of continuous exposure to mirrors, but they still persist in reacting to their reflection as if they were seeing other monkeys. Even gibbons (apes) and gorillas (great apes) seem incapable of learning that their behavior is the source of the behavior depicted in the image. Most primates, therefore, appear to lack a cognitive category for processing mirrored information about themselves. The implications of these data for traditional views of consciousness are considered briefly, and a recent attempt to develop an operant analog to self-recognition is critically evaluated. Finally, an attempt is made to show that self-awareness, consciousness, and mind are not mutually exclusive cognitive categories and that the emergence of self-awareness may be equivalent to the emergence of mind. Several indices of “mind” which can be applied to nonhuman species are discussed in the context of an attempt to develop a comparative psychology of mind.