Spatial Generalization of Imitation in Dogs (Canis familiaris)

Claudia Fugazza, Ákos Pogány, A. Miklósi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dogs, like human infants, are able to imitate human actions after a delay (deferred imitation). This study demonstrates that in deferred imitation tasks, dogs can generalize imitation across context modification to a certain extent. Specifically, they can imitate an object-related action if the object used by the demonstrator is displaced to a different location. However, if the object is interchanged with a different one, their imitative performance drops while they show a spatial bias toward the location of demonstration. We used a combination of the 2-action procedure and the "Do as I do" paradigm and displaced the target objects manipulated by the demonstrator, so that, at the time of recall, dogs could only match either the original location of demonstration or the displaced object, but not both. In conditions with a single object present and displaced after the demonstration, dogs matched the action and the object on which it was shown. In conditions with the location of 2 objects interchanged, dogs more likely matched the location. However, when humans provided ostensive cues and pointing gestures to draw the subjects' attention toward the displaced target object, dogs' predisposition to follow human communication outweighed their spatial bias and, as a consequence, their object matching and imitative performance increased. We conclude that object's physical features function as retrieval cues that facilitate recalling the action. In addition to figurative information, dogs rely strongly on spatial information in Do as I do tasks. The results are discussed concerning dogs' representational system of imitative actions. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Apr 28 2016

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imitation
Dogs
dogs
Cues
Gestures
dog
Generalization (Psychology)
communication (human)
Communication
communication

Keywords

  • Dog
  • Generalization of imitation
  • Human communicative cues
  • Social learning
  • Spatial bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Spatial Generalization of Imitation in Dogs (Canis familiaris). / Fugazza, Claudia; Pogány, Ákos; Miklósi, A.

In: Journal of Comparative Psychology, 28.04.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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