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

 

 

Beran, M. J., Ratliff, C. L., & Evans, T. A. (2009). Natural choice in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Perceptual and temporal effects on selective value. Learning and Motivation, 40, 186-196.  

In three experiments, four chimpanzees made choices between two visible food options to assess the validity of the selective value effect (the assignment of value to only the most preferred type of food presented in a comparison). In Experiment 1, we established that all chimpanzees preferred single banana pieces to single apple pieces before presenting the critical test. In this test two chimpanzees preferred a mix of one banana piece and one apple piece to a single banana piece when both banana pieces were approximately the same size, but two chimpanzees were indifferent between the two options, exhibiting the selective value effect. In Experiment 2, when the banana pieces in both options were more closely equated in size, the chimpanzees were biased to choose the single banana piece over the mixed array even though this was the smaller total amount of food. However, in Experiment 3, when we introduced longer intervals between each trial, the chimpanzees preferred the mixed set and thus the larger total amount of food. The results demonstrate that only some chimpanzees exhibit the choice pattern indicative of the selective value effect, and they do so only when item size is not carefully controlled and trials are presented quickly in succession. Thus, the behavior pattern originally labeled the selective value effect may actually be explained by a combination of chimpanzeesí sensitivity to small differences in preferred food amount and chimpanzees tendency to avoid less preferred foods that would delay the acquisition of further preferred food items.

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