Archive for December, 2007

Monkeys’ Simple Math Abilities Compared To Humans.

The study conductor(s)top
Jessica Cantlon (graduate student, Duke University);
Elizabeth Brannon, PhD. (psychology professor, Duke University)
The participant(s)top
Two rhesus monkeys; 14 college students
Date study concludedtop
December 1, 2007
Funded bytop
Duke University in Durham, N.C.

To help determine how far back, evolutionarily, that basic math skills go.


On the addition math test, college students scored correctly 94 percent of the time on average and the monkeys scored correctly 76 percent of the time.

Methods usedtop

The participants had to add two sets of dots together. They were each shown one set of dots on a computer touchscreen for a half-second, and then another set a half-second later. They were then shown two separate clusters of dots at the same time, one of which was the correct sum of the first two sets.


The college students did better than the monkeys, scoring correct 94 percent on average compared to the monkey’s 76 percent. Like the college students, the more similar in size the two given choices were, the more the monkeys had a hard time picking the right answer. This suggests monkeys and humans were adding up numbers in their heads in a similar way. Supporting this notion is the fact that both humans and monkeys found it harder to pick the right choice the larger the numbers got.

  • From an evolutionary standpoint, monkeys would have math skills because “math could help monkeys and other animals choose larger amounts of food or gauge the size of a rival group.”, according to Cantlon.
External Sourcestop
Video: |,2933,317526,00.html | Monitor on Psychology Volume 38, No. 3 March 2007 |
APA Citation(s)top
Monkeys’ Simple Math Abilities Compared To Humans.. (2007).
   Retrieved January 21, 2018, from Public Studies Web site:
MLA Citation(s)top
“Monkeys’ Simple Math Abilities Compared To Humans.”
   Public Studies. 1 December 2007.
   January 21, 2018. <>.