Students' Research Circle    
 
 
2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
The conference
Session 1
Jury 1
» Session 2
Jury 2
Sponsors
Awards-list
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
Home » Archive » 2008 » Session 2

Biology session

'Violation of expectation’ paradigm in dogs in ’naive physical’ experiments
Gergely Anna II. évfolyam
Institute of Biology, Department of Ecology
Supervisors: Dr. Topál József, Erdőhegyi Ágnes, Dr. Kabai Péter

Abstract:

Violation-of-expectation method is widely used to illustrate different aspects of infant cognition (e.g. Baillargeon 2004). In the standard version of this paradigm the subject sees repeatedly an expected event, which is consistent with his/her expectation and an unexpected event, which violates this expectation. To study whether this paradigm can be eligible to track cognitive processes in dogs we conducted two “violation of expectation” experiments. In these experiments we focused on the concept of size-constancy and gravitation.

In the ‘size-constancy’ the ‘test group’ (N=10) in the six shaping trials could witness a pot with food in it moving remotely (by a nylon string) from a predetermined starting point into a box then out again and finally stop at the end point. After 15 sec the experimenter went to the pot and gave the food to the dog. Then the single test trial followed (unexpected event): subject could see as the pot was directed into the box from where an identical but double-size pot came out and moved to the end point. After 15 sec a piece of food was given to the dog. In order to exclude the novelty effect, in the six shaping trials the ‘control group’ (N=10) could see the pot moving remotely in the box then the double-size one came out from the box and stop at the end point. Then in the single test trial (involving a novelty event) subject could see as the normal-size pot was directed into the box from where the same pot (not the double-size one) came out and moved to the end point.

Our results showed that in the ‘test group’, unlike in the ‘control group’, dogs looked longer the double-size pot at the end point in the test trial than the normal-size pot in the last shaping trial (Paired T test: Test group, p=.009; control group, p=0.31). According to this result we can exclude the novelty effect on the dogs’ looking time in the test trial of the ‘test group’.

In the ‘gravitation’ experiment in the six shaping trials, dogs (N=7) could see a tennis ball connected with a nylon string which was placed on the floor next to the experimenter. Then it was splintered off by her and was placed on the floor again. One control and one test trial followed. In the control trial the experimenter grabbed the ball, lifted it up and then she put it down. In the test trial the ball was pulled up by the nylon string to her hand. After each trial dogs had 15 sec for reaction. Our data showed that dogs’ looking time increased in the test trial when it was compared to the last habituation trial. Subjects looked longer the ball which was moved by the nylon string (Paired T test, p=.087). Looking time also increased in the test trial when it was compared to the control trial (Paired T test, p=0.1).

In sum, changes in the dogs’ looking response in both experiments suggest that dogs can form expectations about the concept of size-constancy and gravitation. It seems that the “violation of expectation” paradigm can be suitable to test physical cognition not only in infants but also in dogs.

Reference:

Baillargeon, R. 2004. Infants’ reasoning about hidden objects: evidence for event-general and event-specific expectations. Developmental Science 7:4, 391–424.



List of lectures