Alternative interpretation to the long-standing assertion that mirror self-recognition entails self-awareness suggests that mirror self-recognition rather refers to the ability to differentiate its own body from other objects of the environment. From this standpoint, individuals should be able to interpret the mirror reflection as a symbolic representation of the self and to map this image to an internal representation of self. The framework of this chapter is based on the assumption that the cognitive processing underlying self-recognition might be related to the capacity of processing mirror image as a symbolic representation of the real object. To support that purpose, the critical developmental and comparative literature on pictorial competence and self-recognition ability in human infants and primates are contrasted. Furthermore, relationship between mirror self-recognition and pictorial abilities are discussed based upon two experiments. We first observed the behavior of pictorially naive primates, with a realistic picture. We second assessed whether non-naïve chimpanzees, demonstrating or not self-recognition, would behave with a realistic picture. Finally, I propose a refined postulate that illustrates how the pictorial competence and self-recognition ability may co-develop. The intent of this model is to open up new perspectives for further explorations of self-recognition ability in primates.
Part of the book: Primates