Discriminating the relation between relations: The role of entropy in abstract conceptualization by baboons (Papio papio) and humans (Homo sapiens)


  • Fagot J
  • Wasserman Ea
  • Young Me

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Two baboons (Papio papio) successfully learned relational matching-to-sample: They picked the choice display that involved the same relation among 16 pictures (same or different) as the sample display, although the sample display shared no pictures with the choice displays. The baboons generalized relational matching behavior to sample displays created from novel pictures. Further experiments varying the number of sample pictures and the mixture of same and different sample pictures suggested that entropy plays a key role in the baboons' conceptual behavior. Two humans (Homo sapiens) were similarly trained and tested; their behavior was both similar to and different from the baboons' behavior. The results suggest that animals other than humans and chimpanzees can discriminate the relation between relations. They further suggest that entropy detection may underlie same-different conceptualization, but that additional processes may participate in human conceptualization.

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