Discriminative and reinforcing properties of paintings in Java sparrows (Padda oryzivora)

Abstract

Previous studies suggest that non-human animals can discriminate two different artworks (such as music or paintings) that were created by humans. However, such studies rarely examined whether those animals were reinforced by one artwork more than another. It has been shown that music composed by humans has both discriminative and reinforcing properties when played for Java sparrows. Here, we investigated the effects of another artistic medium in Java sparrows, namely paintings. The first experiment tested the reinforcing properties. Staying time at three painting categories—Japanese, cubist, and impressionist—was measured as an index of their reinforcing properties. The second experiment used operant conditioning to reveal the discriminative properties of the different artistic styles of such paintings. Results suggest that the paintings have both discriminative and reinforcing properties for Java sparrows. However, the reinforcing properties vary from individual to individual. This is the first report demonstrating reinforcing properties of visual artworks in non-human animals.

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Acknowledgments

This research was partially supported by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows, 2009-2011, 21·55562.

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Correspondence to Yuko Ikkatai.

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Ikkatai, Y., Watanabe, S. Discriminative and reinforcing properties of paintings in Java sparrows (Padda oryzivora). Anim Cogn 14, 227–234 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-010-0356-3

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Keywords

  • Discriminative property
  • Reinforcing property
  • Paintings
  • Java sparrows