Abstract:  The question of whether chimpanzees, like humans, reason about unobservable mental states remains highly controversial. On one account, chimpanzees are seen as possessing a psychological system for social cognition that represents and reasons about behaviors alone. A competing account allows that the chimpanzee's social cognition system additionally construes the behaviors it represents in terms of mental states. Because the range of behaviors that each of the two systems can generate is not currently known, and because the latter system depends upon the former, determining the presence of this latter system in chimpanzees is a far more difficult task than has been assumed. We call for recognition of this problem, and a shift from experimental paradigms that cannot resolve this question, to ones that might allow researchers to intelligently determine when it is necessary to postulate the presence of a system which reasons about both behavior and mental states.