We address the claim that nonhuman animals do not represent unobservable states, based on studies of physical cognition by rooks and social cognition by scrub-jays. In both cases, the most parsimonious explanation for the results is counter to the reinterpretation hypothesis. We suggest that imagination and prospection can be investigated in animals and included in models of cognitive architecture.
Knowing the individual skills and competences of one's group members may be important for deciding from whom to learn (social learning), with whom to collaborate and whom to follow. We investigated whether 12 jackdaws could select conspecifics based on their helping skills, which had been exhibited in a previous context. The birds were tested in a blocked-exit-situation, where they could choose between two conspecifics, one of which could be recruited inside. One conspecific had previously displayed the ability to open the (...) exit door whilst the other individual lacked the skill. The subjects showed a significant preference for the skilled conspecific if they had previously directly benefited from this skill. If they had merely observed the skilled (and non-skilled) individual opening (or failing to open) the exit door, they did not preferably choose the skilled conspecific. Taken together, these results suggest that jackdaws are capable of assessing other individuals' competence under certain circumstances. (shrink)