The detour paradigm in animal cognition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this paper, we review one of the oldest paradigms used in animal cognition: the detour paradigm. The paradigm presents the subject with a situation where a direct route to the goal is blocked and a detour must be made to reach it. Often being an ecologically valid and a versatile tool, the detour paradigm has been used to study diverse cognitive skills like insight, social learning, inhibitory control and route planning. Due to the relative ease of administrating detour tasks, the paradigm has lately been used in large-scale comparative studies in order to investigate the evolution of inhibitory control. Here we review the detour paradigm and some of its cognitive requirements, we identify various ecological and contextual factors that might affect detour performance, we also discuss developmental and neurological underpinnings of detour behaviors, and we suggest some methodological approaches to make species comparisons more robust.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Behavioral Sciences Biology


  • detour behavior, inhibitory control, route planning, comparative psychology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-35
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date2017 Dec 12
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan
Publication categoryResearch