Undergraduate Honours Theses
Previous research has shown that rats can profit from watching an expert demonstrator preform a simple foraging task. The purpose of the present experiment was to examine whether observing a skilled rat perform a difficult foraging task could influence performance by the observer. The present research also examined whether familiarity with the demonstrator would have an effect on imitation. In this experiment, the testing arena contained 12 towers arranged in a circle with six of them baited. The cues to finding the bait were three different and distinctive wall posters and the pattern of the baited towers. Twelve rats were randomly assigned to be either a demonstrator or an observer. In the first phase of the experiment, the six demonstrator rats were exposed to the task over 50 trials to become skilled demonstrators. In the second phase the observer rats were placed inside the arena with an opportunity to observe the demonstrators perform and then had the opportunity to perform the task themselves. Results revealed that both the demonstrators and observers performed equally over their first 20 trials. Thus, no imitation effects or familiarity effects were found.