Motivation and insight in wolf (Canis lupus) and Alaskan malamute (Canis familiaris): Visual discrimination learning

Abstract

Hand-reared wolves performed better than Alaskan malamutes and maternally reared wolves on Wisconsin General Test Apparatus (WGTA) measures of oddity learning. Differences between the two groups of wolves are interpreted as motivational. Differences between the hand-reared wolves and the malamutes contradicted predictions that dogs should perform better than wolves on training tasks and suggested that the WGTA tasks are amenable to either trial-and-error (“associative”) solutions typical of training-task performance or complex cognitive (“insight”) solutions more typically observed in problem-solving performance. Accordingly, the hypotheses were tested that (1) insightful solutions produce more rapid acquisition than noninsightful (i.e., associative) solutions, and (2) wolf performance exhibits more insight than does malamute performance. Both hypotheses were confirmed.

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Correspondence to Harry Frank.

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This study was supported by grants from the Faculty Research and Development Fund of the University of Michigan-Flint and from the Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Michigan.

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Frank, H., Frank, M.G., Hasselbach, L.M. et al. Motivation and insight in wolf (Canis lupus) and Alaskan malamute (Canis familiaris): Visual discrimination learning. Bull. Psychon. Soc. 27, 455–458 (1989). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03334654

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Keywords

  • Food Reward
  • Visual Discrimination
  • Reversal Learning
  • Training Task
  • Canis Lupus