JOURNAL ARTICLE

I saw where you have been—The topography of human demonstration affects dogs' search patterns and perseverative errors

András Péter, József Topál, Ádám Miklósi, Péter Pongrácz
Behavioural Processes 2016, 125: 51-62
26869220
Performance in object search tasks is not only influenced by the subjects' object permanence ability. For example, ostensive cues of the human manipulating the target markedly affect dogs' choices. However, the interference between the target's location and the spatial cues of the human hiding the object is still unknown. In a five-location visible displacement task, the experimental groups differed in the hiding route of the experimenter. In the 'direct' condition he moved straight towards the actual location, hid the object and returned to the dog. In the 'indirect' conditions, he additionally walked behind each screen before returning. The two 'indirect' conditions differed from each other in that the human either visited the previously baited locations before (proactive interference) or after (retroactive interference) hiding the object. In the 'indirect' groups, dogs' performance was significantly lower than in the 'direct' group, demonstrating that for dogs, in an ostensive context, spatial cues of the hider are as important as the observed location of the target. Based on their incorrect choices, dogs were most attracted to the previously baited locations that the human visited after hiding the object in the actual trial. This underlines the importance of retroactive interference in multiple choice tasks.

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