Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Trap-Tube Problem

  • Elisabetta VisalberghiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1484-1


Trap-tube problem. This task investigates causal reasoning in the physical domain. It consists of a transparent horizontal tube containing a reward that can be obtained by pushing it out of the tube with a stick. The trap tube has a hole on its bottom surface such that if the reward is pushed above the hole, it falls through the hole into a trap where it cannot be reached. Thus, errors are penalized. The tube transparency allows experimenter and subject alike to view how the tool affects the reward movement throughout the tube and through the hole. In this task an adult human performs correctly on the basis of her/his causal reasoning about the affordances of the tube and the trap. In contrast, other species can be successful by using simpler associative strategies, but control procedures can rule them out.


Success in tasks requiring flexible tool using behaviors appears to imply the ability to understand the relationship between means and ends and the effects...

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Cognitive Sciences and TechnologiesNational Research CouncilRomeItaly

Section editors and affiliations

  • Dawson Clary
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ManitobaWinnipegCanada