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Sixteen horses, divided into 2 groups of 8, were used to study observational learning in horses. One group served as controls while the other group served as the treated group (observers). Observers were allowed to watch a correctly performed discrimination task for 5 days prior to testing their learning response using the same task. Discrimination testing was conducted on all horses daily for 14 days, with criterion set at 7 out of 8 responses correct with the last 5 consecutively correct. The maximum number of trials performed without reaching criterion was limited to 20 per day. Mean trials to criteria (MT) by group were: control, 11.25; observer, 10.70. Mean error (ME) scores were: control, 2.37; observer, 2.02. Average initial discrimination error scores were 11.13 for control and 10.38 for observers (P < 0.10). Asymptote was reached by Day 8 for both control and observer groups. Analysis of variance with repeated measures showed an extreme-day effect indicative of learning (P < 0.01), with non-significant differences in learning rate between experimental groups. Whether the initial ability of the horses to perform a discrimination learning task was enhanced by observation of other horses' performance of that task was not obvious from these data. 1983.
author list (cited authors)
Baer, K. L., Potter, G. D., Friend, T. H., & Beaver, B. V.