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Preview: Journal of Comparative Psychology - Vol 123, Iss 4

Journal of Comparative Psychology - Vol 130, Iss 4

The Journal of Comparative Psychology publishes original empirical and theoretical research from a comparative perspective on the behavior, cognition, perception, and social relationships of diverse species.

Last Build Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2017 12:00:30 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

Divergent personality structures of brown (Sapajus apella) and white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus).


One way to gain insights into personality evolution is by comparing the personality structures of related species. We compared the personality structure of 240 wild white-faced capuchin monkeys to the personality structure of 100 captive brown capuchin monkeys. An ancillary goal was to test the degree to which different personality questionnaires yielded similar personality dimensions. Both species were rated on a common set of 26 antonym pairs. The brown capuchin monkeys were also rated on the 54-item Hominoid Personality Questionnaire. Our cross-species comparisons revealed 3 personality dimensions—Assertiveness, Openness, and Neuroticism—shared by brown and white-faced capuchins, suggesting that these dimensions were present in the common ancestor of these species. Our comparison of the dimensions derived from the antonym pairs and the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire revealed that three common dimensions were identified by both questionnaires. In addition, the dimension Attentiveness was only identified using the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire. These results indicate that major features of capuchin personality are conserved and that the structure of some traits, such as those related to focus, persistence, and attention, diverged. Further work is needed to identify the evolutionary bases that led to the conservation of some dimensions but not others. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Lateral bias and temperament in the domestic cat (Felis silvestris).


Research points to a relationship between lateralization and emotional functioning in humans and many species of animal. The present study explored the association between paw preferences and emotional functioning, specifically temperament, in a species thus far overlooked in this area, the domestic cat. Thirty left-pawed, 30 right-pawed, and 30 ambilateral pet cats were recruited following an assessment of their paw preferences using a food-reaching challenge. The animals’ temperament was subsequently assessed using the Feline Temperament Profile (FTP). Cats’ owners also completed a purpose-designed cat temperament (CAT) scale. Analysis revealed a significant relationship between lateral bias and FTP and CAT scale scores. Ambilateral cats had lower positive (FTP+) scores, and were perceived as less affectionate, obedient, friendly, and more aggressive, than left or right-pawed animals. Left and right pawed cats differed significantly on 1 trait on the CAT scale, namely playfulness. The strength of the cats’ paw preferences was related to the animals’ FTP and CAT scores. Cats with a greater strength of paw preference had higher FTP+ scores than those with a weaker strength of paw preference. Animals with stronger paw preferences were perceived as more confident, affectionate, active, and friendly than those with weaker paw preferences. Results suggest that motor laterality in the cat is strongly related to temperament and that the presence or absence of lateralization has greater implications for the expression of emotion in this species than the direction of the lateralized bias. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Female-directed violence as a form of sexual coercion in humans (Homo sapiens).


Male-perpetrated female-directed violence (FDV) may be associated with greater sexual access to a female. Accordingly, FDV is expected to be associated with greater copulation frequency. Research on nonhuman primates affirms this hypothesis, but no previous research has investigated this relationship in humans (Homo sapiens). The current research tests the hypothesis that FDV is associated with in-pair copulation frequency and, thus, may function as a form of sexual coercion. It was predicted that men who perpetrate FDV will secure more in-pair copulations than men who do not perpetrate violence (Prediction 1a), and that average monthly rates of FDV would positively correlate with in-pair copulation frequency (Prediction 1b). Male participants (n = 355) completed a survey, reporting limited demographic information (e.g., age, relationship length), in-pair copulation frequency, and history of physical violence perpetration. As predicted, violent men secured more in-pair copulations, on average, than nonviolent men, and monthly rates of violence positively correlated with in-pair copulation frequency. In humans, as in nonhuman primates, FDV by males may facilitate greater sexual access to a female. We discuss the implications of the current research for an evolutionary perspective on partner violence, and draw on research on nonhuman primates to highlight profitable avenues of research on FDV in humans. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Explorative innovators and flexible use of social information in common ravens (Corvus corax) and carrion crows (Corvus corone).


Innovation and social information use are influenced by individual characteristics, and are important for the creation and transmission of novel behavioral patterns. Here, we investigated which individual factors predict innovation rates and social transmission of information in a comparative study with identically reared common ravens (Corvus corax) and carrion crows (Corvus corone corone; Corvus corone cornix). In the innovation experiment (1), we presented the birds with a novel problem-solving task while alone, to determine which individuals would quickly solve (“innovators”) or not solve (“noninnovators”) this task. We then related these findings to sex, object exploration (frequency of novel item manipulation), object neophobia (latency to novel item interaction), and social rank position. We found that innovators were more explorative than noninnovators, although they did not differ significantly in social rank, object neophobia or sex. In the social information use experiments (2 & 3), subjects first observed a model (Exp. 2: conspecific, heterospecific; Exp. 3: conspecific innovator & noninnovator) demonstrate a specific color selection in a 2-choice cup task, before being allowed to make their own cup selection. Innovator and noninnovator observers did not significantly differ in their tendency to use social information, that is, to select the demonstrated cup first, from a conspecific or heterospecific model. Furthermore, observers did not preferentially use social information from an innovator over a noninnovator model. We discuss our findings in relation to the likely benefits of flexible information use, and the role of other model characteristics, such as relationships, on the use of social information. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Hand preferences for unimanual and bimanual coordinated actions in olive baboons (Papio anubis): Consistency over time and across populations.


The reliability of handedness data in nonhuman primates and variations of sample size across studies are critical issues for exploring their potential continuity with humans concerning hemispheric specialization. In this study, we investigated the consistency of handedness for unimanual and bimanual tasks in olive baboons (Papio anubis). For both tasks, we found a consistency of hand preferences over time among subjects retested 5 years later and a consistency of population-level handedness between 2 independent populations. Altogether, when combining the 2 samples, bimanual (N = 260) but not unimanual task (N = 220) elicited right-handedness predominance. These findings demonstrate the reliability and robustness of predominance of right-handedness in olive baboons for bimanual coordinated behaviors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The role of past interactions in great apes’ communication about absent entities.


Recent evidence suggests that great apes can use the former location of an entity to communicate about it. In this study we built on these findings to investigate the social–cognitive foundations of great apes’ communicative abilities. We tested whether great apes (n = 35) would adjust their requests for absent entities to previous interactions they had with their interlocutor. We manipulated the apes’ experience with respect to the interlocutor’s knowledge about the previous content of the now-empty location as well as their experience with the interlocutor’s competence to provide additional food items. We found that apes adjusted their requests to both of these aspects but failed to integrate them with one another. These results demonstrate a surprising amount of flexibility in great apes’ communicative abilities while at the same time suggesting some important limitations in their social communicative skills. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Differences in shoaling behavior in two species of freshwater fish (Danio rerio and Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi).


Fish can gain significant adaptive advantages when living in a group and they exhibit a wide variety of types of collective motion. The scientific literature recognizes 2 main patterns: shoals (aggregations of individuals that remain close to each other), and schools (aggregations of aligned, or polarized, individuals). We analyzed the collective motion of 2 social fish species, zebrafish (Danio rerio) and black neon tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi), and compared their patterns of movement and the effect of group size and environmental constraints such as water column height and tank geometry on the collective motion of both species. We recorded the movement of groups of fish (n = 10 and n = 20) using 2 tank geometries: a rectangular shape and a rectangular shape with rounded corners; and we also manipulated the water column height (15 and 25 cm). We extracted the individual fish trajectories and calculated indices of cohesion, coordination, group density and group shape. The results showed that the 2 species had different types of collective motion: the zebrafish’s global motion matched that of a shoal, while the black neon tetra’s motion matched that of a school. Indirect evidence indicated that the 2 species tended to occupy the vertical space differently while swimming in a group. Finally, we found that tank geometry did not affect group polarization, whereas group size had an effect on black neon tetra density, which was higher in small group sizes than in large ones. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Non-nutritive, thermotactile cues induce odor preference in infant mice (Mus musculus).


Mouse pups (Mus musculus) placed on the midline of a mesh floor suspended over an empty area bounded by 2 odor fields, 1 containing homecage bedding and the other clean bedding, preferentially selected the homecage area when tested on postnatal day (PD) 5, 10, or 12. PD5 pups given a choice of homecage bedding versus age-matched bedding from another litter showed no discrimination, whereas PD10/12 pups preferred own home odors. To test whether such home orientation can be shaped by experience, pups were placed for 2 hrs on PDs 8 and 9 with either a lactating dam, a nonlactating foster dam or a warm tube bearing 1 of 2 novel odors. Other pups were similarly exposed to scented gauze to test whether mere exposure (familiarization) to an odor could induce a preference. Pups naïve to both test odors and those familiar with 1 odor showed no preference for either odor on PD10. Pups placed with a lactating dam spent significantly more time over the conditioned odor. Moreover, pups placed with the nonlactating dams or the warm tube also preferred the conditioned odor, indicating that the preference can be attributed association with non-nutritive, thermotactile cues. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Do humans (Homo sapiens) and fish (Pterophyllum scalare) make similar numerosity judgments?


Numerous studies have shown that many animal species can be trained to discriminate between stimuli differing in numerosity. However, in the absence of generalization tests with untrained numerosities, what decision criterion was used by subjects remains unclear: the subjects may succeed by selecting a specific number of items (a criterion over absolute numerosities), or by applying a more general relative numerosity rule, for example, selecting the larger/smaller quantity of items. The latter case may require more powerful representations, supporting judgments of order (“more/less”) beyond simple “same/different” judgments, but a relative numerosity rule may also be more adaptive. In previous research, we showed that guppies (Poecilia reticulata) spontaneously prefer relative numerosity rules. To date it is unclear whether this preference is shared by other fish and, more broadly, other species. Here we compared the performance of angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) with that of human adults (Homo sapiens) in a task in which subjects were initially trained to select arrays containing 10 dots (either in 5 vs. 10 or 10 vs. 20 comparisons). Subsequently they were tested with the previously trained numerosity and a novel numerosity (respectively, 20 or 5). In the absence of explicit instructions, both species spontaneously favored a relative rule, selecting the novel numerosity. These similarities demonstrate that, beyond shared representations for numerical quantities, vertebrate species may also share a system for taking decisions about quantities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Orangutans (Pongo abelii) seek information about tool functionality in a metacognition tubes task.


Nonhuman primates appear to engage in metacognition by knowing when they need to search for relevant information for solving the tubes task. The task involves presenting subjects with a number of tubes with only 1 having food hidden inside. Before choosing, subjects look inside the tubes more often when they do not know which 1 contains the food (hidden trials) compared to when they do know this information (visible trials). It is argued, however, that nonmetacognitive general food searching strategies can explain this looking behavior. To address this issue, 3 orangutans were tested with a novel tubes task in which they were only required to seek information about tool functionality. The results showed that subjects had the ability to search for tool functionality but no subject looked significantly more in hidden trials compared to visible trials. Subjects were retested with the same condition and given a second condition in which the cost of a wrong choice was increased. In both conditions, 2 subjects looked significantly more inside the hidden trials compared to the visible trials. Subjects were also tested with the traditional tubes task in which food was hidden inside 1 tube. All subjects looked inside the tubes significantly more in the hidden trials compared to the visible trials. However, subjects conducted more excessive looks compared to when looking for tool functionality. I suggest that excessive searches may be caused by food being a strong stimulus and discuss the relevance of this possibility for metacognitive research involving the tubes task. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Effects of acute corticosterone treatment on male prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster): Territorial aggression does not accompany induced social preference.


Corticosterone (CORT) is a stress-related steroid hormone found in vertebrates, and is known to interact with behavior. In the socially monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster), acute stress and specifically acute CORT administration have been shown to facilitate male social preference for a familiar female, and this effect has been described as facilitation of the monogamous pair bond. It is possible, however, that the effects of stress on social preference may initially represent a short-term coping strategy. Here we test whether the effect of acute CORT administration extends to territoriality, a defining component of the prairie vole monogamous suite of behaviors. Onset of territoriality would provide further support for an induced pair bond, whereas no increase in aggression would suggest an initial coping response. Using acute exogenous CORT injections followed by behavioral trials, we found a facilitation of social preference, but we did not find increased aggression. This result suggests that the social preference that develops in response to CORT is at least in part a coping response rather than facilitation of comprehensive monogamous pair bond behavior. Our results are consistent with previous studies both within prairie voles and across other taxa that suggest that social contact may be involved in the regulation of stress responses. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Experimenter expectancy bias does not explain Eurasian jays’ (Garrulus glandarius) performance in a desire-state attribution task.


Male Eurasian jays have been found to adjust the type of food they share with their female partner after seeing her eat 1 type of food to satiety. One interpretation of this behavior is that the male encoded the female’s decreased desire for the food she was sated on, and adjusted his behavior accordingly. However, in these studies, the male’s actions were scored by experimenters who knew on which food the female was sated. Thus, it is possible that the experimenters’ expectations (subconsciously) affected their behavior during tests that, in turn, inadvertently could have influenced the males’ actions. Here, we repeated the original test with an experimenter who was blind to the food on which the female was sated. This procedure yielded the same results as the original studies: The male shared food with the female that was in line with her current desire. Thus, our results rule out the possibility that the Eurasian jay males’ actions in the food sharing task could be explained by the effects of an experimenter expectancy bias. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)