Michael J. Beran, Ph.D.
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Last updated: 
January 13, 2022



Beran, M. J., Harris, E. H., Evans, T. A., Klein, E. D., Chan, B., Flemming, T. M., & Washburn, D. A. (2008). Ordinal judgments of symbolic stimuli by capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta): The effects of differential and nondifferential reward. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 122, 52-61.

Ordinal learning was investigated in capuchin monkeys and rhesus monkeys. In Experiment 1, both species were presented with pairings of the Arabic numerals 0 to 9. Some animals were given food rewards equal to the value of the numeral selected and some were rewarded with a single pellet only for choosing the higher numeral within the pair. Both species learned to select the larger numeral, but only rhesus monkeys that were differentially rewarded performed above chance levels when presented with novel probe pairings. In Experiment 2, the monkeys were first presented with arrays of 5 familiar numerals (from the range 0 to 9) and then arrays of 5 novel letters (from the range A to J) with the same reward outcomes in place as in Experiment 1. Both species performed better with the numerals, suggesting that an ordinal sequence of all stimuli had been learned during Experiment 1 rather than a matrix of two-choice discriminations.

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