Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Ethnography should replace experimentation

David F. Armstrong a1
a1 Editor, Sign Language Studies, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC 20002


This paper points to the need in ape language research to shift from experimentation to ethnography. We cannot determine what goes on inside the head of an ape when it communicates with a human being, but we can learn about the nature and content of the communication that occurs in such face-to-face interaction. This information is fundamental for establishing a baseline for the abilities of an ape-human common ancestor.