Finding causes and their effects is central for our understanding of the world. It has long been debated whether animals have complex causal cognition and current evidence is ambiguous. This project aims at investigating the causal cognition of corvids and great apes and their understanding of the causal structure of the world.
All “why” and “how” questions are about the causal structure of the world. Finding causes and their effects is a central endeavour in all of science and philosophy, and in our everyday lives. Although many researchers have claimed that animals also have complex causal cognition, or conversely not at all, the evidence has been very ambiguous. The aim of this project is to investigate to what extent animals have causal cognition (it is a multifaceted ability after all), with a focus on weight as an unobservable, causal phenomenon. Weight is a ubiquitous and relevant property, but animals might not require a higher-order understanding of it to use its perceptual aspects successfully in everyday life. We are running several tests on ravens and great apes. These distantly related species were chosen because they have similar complex cognitive skills, and investigating their independent evolution is another part of this project.