[MARMAM] New paper on Dolphin Social Cognition

Johnson, Christine c8johnson at ucsd.edu
Sat Jun 23 16:21:37 PDT 2018


My colleagues and I are please to announce the publication of a new paper on social cognition in bottlenose dolphins. See link and abstract below. Pdfs also available upon request.


Johnson, C.M., Sullivan, J., Jensen, J., Buck, C., Trexel, J. & St. Leger, J. (2018). Prosocial predictions by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops spp) based on motion patterns in visual stimuli. Psychological Science, 1-9. doi: 10.1177/0956797618771078


In this study, paradigms that test whether human infants make social attributions to simple moving shapes were adapted for use with bottlenose dolphins. The dolphins observed animated displays in which a target oval would falter while moving upward, and then either a “prosocial” oval would enter and help or caress it or an “antisocial” oval would enter and hinder or hit it. In subsequent displays involving all three shapes, when the pro- and antisocial ovals moved offscreen in opposite directions, the dolphins reliably predicted—based on anticipatory head turns when the target briefly moved behind an occluder—that the target oval would follow the prosocial one. When the roles of the pro- and antisocial ovals were reversed toward a new target, the animals’ continued success suggests that such attributions may be dyad specific. Some of the dolphins also directed high arousal behaviors toward these displays, further supporting that they were socially interpreted.

Christine M. Johnson PhD

Dolphin Cognition Lab

Dept. of Cognitive Science

University of California, San Diego
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