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PSYC205 Exam Review
Chapter 1 – History of Comparative Cognition
oFemales affiliate w males they have observed mating w other females
oFemales mate w males that they affiliate with
oFemales lay more fertilized eggs after mating w males they previously
observed mating than w males they did not observe mating
oOverall : some bird species choose mates by observing which mates other
females choose & copy them – social learning.
-Hallmarks of Comparative Cognition:
oExamination of Cognitive Processes:
Cognition: knowledge or thinking/information processing
Cognition internal, but observed externally
Either experimental or naturalistic approach. Or both.
Von Frisch bee study dance to communicate food location
Cognitive abilities evolved through natural selection. Amount of
cognitive similarity between species depends on how closely
related they are on an evolutionary scale.
oBefore Darwin, assumed animals didn’t engage in voluntary behaviour
1. Offspring inherit parents’ characteristics
2. Variations among individuals within a species occur spontaneously:
mutations, genetics, etc.
3. Certain variations will be selected & transmitted across generations: if
variation promotes survival/reproduction.
o“Survival of the fittest” Fitness = ability to survive & reproduce
oNatural Selection: process by which inherited traits become more/less
prominent in a population due to fitness differences
oIf morphological (physical) similarities due to common ancestry, cognition
likely to be similar as well
oEvolution produces by-products, adaptations & random effects
oAdaptations: result of natural selection, provides some evolutionary
oExaptation: adaptations to 1 environmental problem that can be co-opted
to solve another (ex. screwdriver lid opener example)
oEvolution of cognition difficult to study because its internal
Difficult to find common ancestor because species employ
different solutions to the same problem
oByproducts: side effects of adaptations, not result of NS (bellybutton)
oRandom Effects: chance mutations not providing any survival or
reproductive advantages (although may be advantageous in future if
conditions change). Not due to NS, referred to as “noise”
oAdaptation explains emergence of different species across evolution
oSpecies: group of animals that can breed w each other
oSpeciation: animals of same species get separated and new group adapts
to new environment. This new group continues to adopt new
characteristics & become increasingly different. Eventually becomes a
new species with a common ancestor
oContinuity Hypothesis: idea that trait differences between animals &
humans will be quantitative, not qualitative (Darwin) different is not in
the trait, but how it is expressed (ex. thought capacity)
oAnecdotal Method: relying on stories heard from secondhand sources to
infer species’ complex cognition (Darwin & Romanes )
oClever Hans Effect: sending subtle cues to horse for correct math answer.
Overcome by ‘double blind’ procedure. Contributed to development of
controlled, experimental field of cognition.
-Experimental Psychology & Behaviourism:
oMorgan’s Canon: ruling out, or controlling for, simple explanations of
behaviour prior to attributing higher order cognitive functions to animals.
key to experimental psychology
oThorndike criticized anecdotal method. Conducted trial-and-error
experiments. Tight methodology led to comparative psychology as an
Ex. cats escape from box study – escape time decreases because
form associations between environmental stimuli & their responses
‘reinforcement history’: frequency of reward/punishment
-Rise of Behaviourism:
oWatson Only observable behaviour should be studied, NOT mental states;
Human & animal behaviour modified by experience. Learning of
oBehaviourism: studies only observable behaviour
oRadical Behaviourism: extreme position that mentalistic states have no
role in behavioural change
oMethodological Behaviourism: research involving quantifiable measures
of behavioural output & tight control of extraneous variables (to account
for mental processes)
oTolman animal behaviour is controlled by complex information
processing that occurs inside the animal’s head. Not just simple stimulus-
oWolfgang Kohler - Insight Learning (Gestalt Theory):
Studied higher intelligence in chimps to follow up on Darwin’s
Continuity Hypothesis -differences quantitative, not qualitative
Chimps given tools to solve problems. Chimps use insight &
planning, not just trial-and-error techniques
When recreated, discovered that prior experience with tools/toys
necessary to use them in problem solving tasks
Not trial and error (behaviourism) or flash of inspiration Kohler
-Ethology & Behavioural Ecology:
oInnate Behaviours: not the product of conditioning or learning
oEthology: scientific study of causes of adaptive value of animal
behaviour. Promoted study of behaviour in evolutionary terms.
oInstincts: behavioral patterns that appear even if organism had no
previous experience with stimuli that would elicit this behaviour
oFixed Action Pattern (FAP): stereotyped, instinctive behaviours
occurring in rigid order, triggered by specific stimulus in the external
environment. Once initiated, FAPs continue to completion
oTinbergen behaviour = combination of innate mechanisms & learning.
Apparently innate behaviour (FAPs) can be modified by experience
oImprinting: type of learning in which exposure to specific stimuli at a
young age alters behavioural traits of the animal. Behaviour develops
rapidly and remains in tact throughout the organism’s life.
Innate aspect of imprinting tendency to attend to moving, visual
stimulus soon after birth
-Four Questions of Ethology (Tinbergen):
oWhat is the function of this behaviour?
oHow did this behaviour develop across evolution & how does it compare
to behaviour of closely related species?
oHow does behaviour change across animal’s life span?
oHow does animal use sensory/motor abilities to respond to stimuli?
o2 different causes of behaviour:
Ultimate Cause: adaptive/evolutionary value of behaviour
Proximate Cause: immediate triggers for behaviour
-Behavioural Ecology : ethology subfield, but focuses more on ultimate causes
-Emergence of Comparative Cognition:
oGrew out of 2 science: experimental psychology & behavioural ecology
oCognitive psyc also stems from linguistics (language acquisition) &
computer sciences (information processing)
oGalef rat pups choose food based on what adults choose. Social learning
– adults more likely to have had experience with toxic food.
oGriffin discovered echolocation in bats
oGeneral agreement that animal consciousness, but no proof
-Cognition in an Evolutionary Framework: