Event Title

Sherlock Bones: Deductive Reasoning in Dogs?

Faculty Advisor

Ellen Furlong

Graduation Year

2021

Location

Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Start Date

13-4-2019 2:00 PM

End Date

13-4-2019 3:00 PM

Description

Humans regularly use deductive reasoning to make decisions. For example, if Anne is with Bob and Bob is at the Coffee Hound, I can infer that Anne is also at the Coffee Hound. Is deductive reasoning uniquely human? Here we asked: can dogs use deductive reasoning? An experimenter showed dogs two buckets then reached into the buckets, one at a time, to demonstrate the contents. Each bucket contained two objects: either two neutral objects (A and B) or a neutral object (C) and a treat. Once the dogs saw one item, we returned it to the bucket and repeated the process with the second item. Once the dog saw the items in both buckets twice, the buckets were hidden and rotated out of the dog’s sight. The researcher demonstrated one of the objects in each bucket (A and C) and dogs searched the bucket containing the treat. If dogs use the same reasoning as us, they should find the treat because in the same bucket as object C. Results showed that contrary to predictions dogs chose both buckets about equally. While this may suggest they lack deductive logic, it is possible they failed to demonstrate it due to methodological constraints.

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Apr 13th, 2:00 PM Apr 13th, 3:00 PM

Sherlock Bones: Deductive Reasoning in Dogs?

Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Humans regularly use deductive reasoning to make decisions. For example, if Anne is with Bob and Bob is at the Coffee Hound, I can infer that Anne is also at the Coffee Hound. Is deductive reasoning uniquely human? Here we asked: can dogs use deductive reasoning? An experimenter showed dogs two buckets then reached into the buckets, one at a time, to demonstrate the contents. Each bucket contained two objects: either two neutral objects (A and B) or a neutral object (C) and a treat. Once the dogs saw one item, we returned it to the bucket and repeated the process with the second item. Once the dog saw the items in both buckets twice, the buckets were hidden and rotated out of the dog’s sight. The researcher demonstrated one of the objects in each bucket (A and C) and dogs searched the bucket containing the treat. If dogs use the same reasoning as us, they should find the treat because in the same bucket as object C. Results showed that contrary to predictions dogs chose both buckets about equally. While this may suggest they lack deductive logic, it is possible they failed to demonstrate it due to methodological constraints.