What’s the project about?
Several studies in non-human animals show that high levels of exploration lead to increased problem-solving success. For example, wild Indian mynas that manipulated an apparatus in more diverse ways later succeeded in solving more problems than mynas that showed less diverse manipulations. Similarly, wild spotted hyenas that showed more complex exploration were more likely to solve a problem than less exploratory hyenas. Thus, exploration may enhance future problem-solving success, and might also be an important component of flexible problem-solving. An important modulator is the animal's motivational state, which in turn influences exploration and leads to increased persistence and problem-solving performance. However, there are few studies that have investigated the relationship between persistence and problem-solving. We tested exploratory persistence and problem-solving performance in zoo- and sanctuary-housed orangutans and chimpanzees using an exploration task and a set of problem-solving apparatuses. The project will investigate the connection between exploration and performance in the test phases. The student will work with video recordings of the experiments and behavioral data that have been collected in various zoos and sanctuaries.
Who can apply?
The project is available to BSc students.
Anything else to know?
The student may also join our lab’s regular behavioral data collection at different zoos in Germany and Switzerland.
Who should I contact?
Isabelle Laumer & Caroline Schuppli, Max Planck Research Group Development and Evolution of Cognition