Michael J. Beran, Ph.D.
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Last updated: 
September 1, 2021

 

 

Flemming, T. M., Beran, M. J., Thompson, R. K. R., Kleider, H. M., & Washburn, D. A. (2008).  What meaning means for same and different: Analogical reasoning in humans (Homo sapiens), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 122, 176-185.

Thus far, language- and token-trained apes (e.g., D. Premack, 1976; R. K. R. Thompson, D. L. Oden, & S. T. Boysen, 1997) have provided the best evidence that nonhuman animals can solve, complete, and construct analogies, thus implicating symbolic representation as the mechanism enabling the phenomenon. In this study, the authors examined the role of stimulus meaning in the analogical reasoning abilities of three different primate species. Humans (Homo sapiens), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) completed the same relational matching-to-sample (RMTS) tasks with both meaningful and nonmeaningful stimuli. This discrimination of relations-between-relations serves as the basis for analogical reasoning. Meaningfulness facilitated the acquisition of analogical matching for human participants, whereas individual differences among the chimpanzees suggest that meaning can either enable or hinder their ability to complete analogies. Rhesus monkeys did not succeed in the RMTS task regardless of stimulus meaning, suggesting that their ability to reason analogically, if present at all, may be dependent on a dimension other than the representational value of stimuli.

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