Animal Training - Higher Learning


Social Learning

‘learning in a social content. This includes learning about dominance status, motivation, goals and abilities of other members of the group. It includes learning in situations where the reinforcement is social, such as the receipt of food items, grooming or proximity to a superior. Social learning manifests itself in emulation and imitation of others, and sometimes in apparent deceit.’ (McFarland D., 2006)

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Observational Learning

'the learning that occurs through observing the behaviour of others’

  • Examples:
    • Chimpanzees learning from older members how to termite fish
    • Capuchins nut cracking
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Latent Learning

‘a type of learning in which the animal appears to make no response to the stimuli that is learning about. For example, an animal may pass a previously undetected source of food on its way to fin water. On a subsequent occasion, when hungry, it will head straight to the food source, showing that it learned about it even though it did not respond to it at the time’ (McFarland D., 2006)

  • Example:
    • 2 groups of rats
    • 1st group allowed access to maze without food
    • both groups let in with food
    • 1st group quicker to find the food


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'Mental processes that are presumed to occur within the animal, but which cannot be observed directly. In its stricter sense, cognition refers to a particular kind of knowledge: namely ‘knowing that’ rather than ‘knowing how’. Cognition is the manipulation of explicit knowledge.’ (McFarland D., 2006)

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Insight Learning

The ability to solve problems suddenly, without the benefits of prior experience or trial and error.

‘An aspect of learning which supposed insight into the relationship among stimuli or events leads to the sudden production of a new response. For example, a caged chimpanzee may fit two poles together to reach through the bars of the cage and retrieve a banana placed outside. Similarly, a chimpanzee may drag a box into position and stand on it to reach a banana suspended from the roof of the cage’ (McFarland D., 2006)

‘lightbulb moment’

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