The provision of novel objects allows one to probe for behavioural differences among species. This is particularly relevant when studying species that form mixed-species groups, as divergent responses may provide clues to the advantages that individuals gain from associating. We compared the responsiveness to novel objects in captive single- and mixed-species groups of saddleback (Saguinus fuscicollis) and red-bellied (Saguinus labiatus) tamarins to determine the influence of a congener. We tested groups with novel objects placed near the top, the middle, and on the floor of their enclosures and measured latency to approach and touch them. We tested predictions related to differences in lifestyle patterns under natural conditions. As we predicted, S.labiatus, which usually occur at a higher mean height in the forest than their congeners, responded to objects placed near the top of the enclosure significantly quicker in both single- and mixed-species groups. S. fuscicollis responded to objects placed on the floor quicker, and in mixed-species groups S. fuscicollis approached them before S. labiatus did. There were specific differences in median touch–approach time (T-A): Saguinus fuscicollis had a shorter T-A time than that of S. labiatus, which can be related to their manipulative foraging style. Reaction times decreased in mixed-species trials for both species, suggesting that the reaction of one species may effect the congener. Both species may benefit through association, though the dominance of Saguinus labiatus over S. fuscicollis may limit the advantages to S. fuscicollis. Over all our study supports the idea that cross-specific social facilitation is an important consequence of mixed-species groups of Saguinus.