Macphail’s ‘null hypothesis’, that there are no differences in intelligence, qualitative or quantitative, between non-human vertebrates has been controversial. This controversy can be useful if it encourages interest in acquiring a detailed understanding of how non-human animals express flexible problem-solving capacity (‘intelligence’), but limiting the discussion to vertebrates is too arbitrary. As an example, we focus here on Portia, a spider with an especially intricate predatory strategy and a preference for other spiders as prey. We review research on pre-planned detours, (...) expectancy violation and a capacity to solve confinement problems where, in each of these three contexts, there is experimental evidence of innate cognitive capacities and reliance on internal representation. These cognitive capacities are related to, but not identical to, intelligence. When discussing intelligence, as when discussing cognition, it is more useful to envisage a continuum instead of something that is simply present or not; in other words, a continuum pertaining to flexible problem-solving capacity for ‘intelligence’ and a continuum pertaining to reliance on internal representation for ‘cognition’. When envisaging a continuum pertaining to intelligence, Daniel Dennett’s notion of four Creatures (Darwinian, Skinnerian, Popperian, Gregorian) is of interest, with the distinction between Skinnerian and Popperian Creatures being especially relevant when considering Portia. When we consider these distinctions, a case can be made for Portia being a Popperian Creature. Like Skinnerian Creatures, Popperian Creatures express flexible problem solving capacity, but the manner in which this capacity is expressed by Popperian Creatures is more distinctively cognitive. (shrink)
In the metaphor of behavioral momentum, the rate of a free operant in the presence of a discriminative stimulus is analogous to the velocity of a moving body, and resistance to change measures an aspect of behavior that is analogous to its inertial mass. An extension of the metaphor suggests that preference measures an analog to the gravitational mass of that body. The independent functions relating resistance to change and preference to the conditions of reinforcement may be construed as convergent (...) measures of a single construct, analogous to physical mass, that represents the effects of a history of exposure to the signaled conditions of reinforcement and that unifies the traditionally separate notions of the strength of learning and the value of incentives. Research guided by the momentum metaphor encompasses the effects of reinforcement on response rate, resistance to change, and preference and has implications for clinical interventions, drug addiction, and self-control. In addition, its principles can be seen as a modern, quantitative version of Thorndike's (1911) Law of Effect, providing a new perspective on some of the challenges to his postulation of strengthening by reinforcement. Key Words: behavioral momentum; clinical interventions; drug addiction; preference; reinforcement; resistance to change; response strength; self-control. (shrink)
The predictive validity of the ultimatum game (UG) for cross-cultural differences in real-world behavior has not yet been established. We discuss results of a recent meta-analysis (Oosterbeek et al 2004), which examined UG behavior across large-scale societies and found that the mean percent offers rejected was positively correlated with social expenditure.
Does the interaction between climactic demands, monetary resources, and freedom suggest a more general relationship between the environmental challenges that human societies face and their resources to meet those challenges? Using data on press freedom (Van de Vliert 2011a), we found no evidence of a similar interaction with natural resources (as measured by oil exports) or risk for natural disasters.
Evolution would favor organisms that can make recurrent decisions in accordance with classical probability (CP) theory, because such choices would be optimal in the long run. This is illustrated by the base-rate fallacy and probability matching, where nonhumans choose optimally but humans do not. Quantum probability (QP) theory may be able to account for these species differences in terms of orthogonal versus nonorthogonal representations.
We make two major comments. First, negative reinforcement contingencies may generate some apparent “drug-like” aspects of money motivation, and the operant account, properly construed, is both a tool and drug theory. Second, according to Lea & Webley (L&W), one might expect that “near-money,” such as frequent-flyer miles, should have a stronger drug and a weaker tool aspect than regular money. Available evidence agrees with this prediction. (Published Online April 5 2006).
The constructs of behavioral mass in research on the momentum of operant behavior and associative strength in Pavlovian conditioning have some interesting parallels, as suggested by Savastano & Miller. Some recent findings challenge the strict separation of operant and Pavlovian determiners of response rate and resistance to change in behavioral momentum, renewing the need for research on the interaction of processes that have traditionally been studied separately. Relatedly, Furedy notes that some autonomic responses may be refractory to conditioning, but a (...) combination of operant contingencies and enriched Pavlovian stimulus-reinforcer relations may prove effective. (shrink)
Altruism can be understood in terms of traditional principles of reinforcement if an outcome that is beneficial to another person reinforces the behavior of the actor who produces it. This account depends on a generalization of reinforcement across persons and might be more amenable to experimental investigation than the one proposed by Rachlin.
In reply to the comments on our target article, we address a variety of issues concerning the generality of our major findings, their relation to other theoretical formulations, and the metaphor of behavioral momentum that inspired much of our work. Most of these issues can be resolved by empirical studies, and we hope that the ideas advanced here will promote the analysis of resistance to change and preference in new areas of research and application.