Animal Cognition

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 1227–1232 | Cite as

Testing problem-solving capacities: differences between individual testing and social group setting

Short Communication


Testing animals individually in problem-solving tasks limits distractions of the subjects during the test, so that they can fully concentrate on the problem. However, such individual performance may not indicate the problem-solving capacity that is commonly employed in the wild when individuals are faced with a novel problem in their social groups, where the presence of a conspecific influences an individual’s behaviour. To assess the validity of data gathered from parrots when tested individually, we compared the performance on patterned-string tasks among parrots tested singly and parrots tested in social context. We tested two captive groups of orange-winged amazons (Amazona amazonica) with several patterned-string tasks. Despite the differences in the testing environment (singly vs. social context), parrots from both groups performed similarly. However, we found that the willingness to participate in the tasks was significantly higher for the individuals tested in social context. The study provides further evidence for the crucial influence of social context on individual’s response to a challenging situation such as a problem-solving test.


Amazona amazonica Parrots Patterned-string task Problem-solving Testing conditions 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anastasia Krasheninnikova
    • 1
  • Jutta M. Schneider
    • 1
  1. 1.Biozentrum Grindel, Department of BiologyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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