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Transitive inference in pigeons may result from differential tendencies to reject the test stimuli acquired during training.

08:00 EDT 29th March 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Transitive inference in pigeons may result from differential tendencies to reject the test stimuli acquired during training."

In the five-term, transitive inference task used with animals, pigeons are trained on four simultaneous discrimination premise pairs: A + B -, B + C -, C + D -, D + E -. Typically, when tested with the BD pair, most pigeons show a transitive inference effect, choosing B over D. Two non-inferential hypotheses have been proposed to account for this effect but neither has been reliably supported by research. Here we test a third non-inferential hypothesis that the preference for B arises because the animals have not had as much experience with B - in the A + B - discrimination as they have had with the D - in the C + D - discrimination. To test this hypothesis we trained the Experimental Group with the A + B - discrimination in which, over trials, there were four possible A + stimuli that could appear. This was done to encourage the pigeons to learn to reject the B - stimulus. For the Control Group there was only one A + stimulus over trials, as is typically the case. We also varied the nature of the stimuli between groups, such that colors served as the stimuli for half of the pigeons, whereas flags of different counties served as stimuli for the remaining pigeons. In both stimulus conditions, for the Experiment Group, we found little preference for stimulus B over stimulus D, whereas for the Control Group we found the typical preference for stimulus B. Thus, we propose that it is not necessary to attribute the transitive inference effect to an inferential process.

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Name: Animal cognition
ISSN: 1435-9456
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