Cognition, Creativity, and Behavior: Selected Essays

By Robert Epstein | Go to book overview

7
THE SPONTANEOUS USE OF MEMORANDA BY PIGEONS

Summary. Two pigeons were trained to engage in an exchange in which each could function as either "speaker" or "listener." When, without subsequent training, each was placed alone in a situation in which it could play both roles, the two repertoires became interconnected. Behavior emerged which can reasonably be called memorandum-making.

We recently described "the first instance of symbolic communication between...two pigeons" ( Epstein, Lanza, & Skinner, 1980) and here report additional language-like accomplishments. In the original exchange, the pigeons, named Jack and Jill, could observe each other through a Plexiglas partition and peck (and thus illuminate) keys embossed with colors or letters.

Jack's task was to peck a color matching one to which only Jill had access. He invoked Jill's help by illuminating a key labeled WHAT COLOR? Jill then thrust her head through a curtain and pecked a plate on which one of three colors (red, green, or yellow) could be seen. She then pecked (and illuminated) a corresponding black-on-white letter (R, G, or Y). Having observed this, Jack pecked a key marked THANK YOU, thus operating a feeder for a few seconds on Jill's side of the partition. Finally, Jack pecked the corresponding color, and a correct selection operated his feeder. He invariably then pecked WHAT COLOR? again. (Hidden colors appeared in a pseudo-random sequence.) The birds engaged in this exchange for sustained periods during which both were correct on 90 percent of the trials. Had they been responding at random, accuracy would have been about 11 percent.

The simulation was prompted by recent investigations with chimpanzees ( Savage-Rumbaugh, Rumbaugh, & Boysen, 1978) and was accomplished through standard techniques of operant conditioning. It was designed to call attention to the possible contribution of an environmental history in the acquisition of certain language-like behavior and was offered as an alternative to current mentalistic and purposive accounts.

In the original procedure, each bird was trained in only one role. Jill was, in a sense, a "speaker"; she "said something about" a hidden color. Jack was a "listener"; he waited for and made use of a symbol provided by Jill. In the

-73-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Cognition, Creativity, and Behavior: Selected Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 362

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.