Date of Award

12-4-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

David A. Washburn - Chair

Second Advisor

Michael J. Beran

Third Advisor

Eric J. Vanman

Fourth Advisor

Heather M. Kleider

Fifth Advisor

Roger K. R. Thompson

Abstract

The acquisition of relational concepts plays an integral role and is assumed to be a prerequisite for analogical reasoning. Language and token-trained apes (e.g. Premack, 1976; Thompson, Oden, and Boysen, 1997) are the only nonhuman animals to succeed in solving and completing analogies, thus implicating language as the mechanism enabling the phenomenon. In the present study, I examine the role of meaning in the analogical reasoning abilities of three different primate species. Humans, chimpanzees, and rhesus monkeys completed relational match-to-sample (RMTS) tasks with either meaningful or nonmeaningful stimuli. For human participants, meaningfulness facilitated the acquisition of analogical rules. Individual differences were evident amongst the chimpanzees suggesting that meaning can either enable or hinder their ability to complete analogies. Rhesus monkeys did not succeed in either condition, suggesting that their ability to reason analogically, if present at all, may be dependent upon a dimension other than the representational value of stimuli.

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