PSYC 3210 :: Homework - Perceptual Categories

Your homework for this week is a reading exercise. Download and read Herrnstein et al 1976. Choose one of the questions below and write a 500-700 word reflection. Print and submit your response by the beginning of class on 9/7/2016.

  1. Category is a term that seems easy to define at first, but can prove slippery on closer examination. Describe and critique the definition of “stimulus category” the authors adopted for the purposes of their study. Discuss how the methods used to train pigeons to discriminate categories are similar and dissimilar to the way that humans and other animals learn categories in natural settings.

  2. The “Clever Hans Effect” is a term used in experimental psychology to describe a situation where an animal appears to have mastered a complex cognitive task but in reality has only memorized a huge number of associations. Describe the experimental design of the study, making sure to list controls and treatments. What features of the design were intended to rule out memorization? Was their design effective?

  3. Animal behavior can be highly variable within and between individuals, and careful statistical analysis is necessary to detect significant effects. Describe how the pigeons’ behavior was quantified and tested for statistical significance. What is “concordance” as used in this paper, and how does it address individual differences?