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Journal Article

Metacognition in dogs: Do dogs know they could be wrong?

MPS-Authors
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Belger,  Julia
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Bräuer,  Juliane
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Belger, J., & Bräuer, J. (2018). Metacognition in dogs: Do dogs know they could be wrong? Learning & Behavior, 46(4), 398-413. doi:10.3758/s13420-018-0367-5.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-7AC2-A
Abstract
In the current study, we investigated the question of whether dogs were sensitive to the information that they themselves had or had not acquired. For this purpose, we conducted three consecutive experiments in which dogs had to find a reward that was hidden behind one of two V-shaped fences with a gap at the point of the V. This setup allowed us to distinguish between selecting one of the fences by walking around it and seeking additional information by checking through the gap in the fence. We varied whether dogs had visual access to the baiting procedure or not. In addition, we manipulated the type and quality of reward as well as the time delay between baiting and choosing to analyze if the dogs' searching behavior was affected. Our results were partly consistent with the findings of Call (Animal Cognition, 13 (5), 689--700, 2010) with great apes, on whose findings we based our experiments. We found that dogs checked more often through the corner of the V-shaped fence when they had not seen where the reward was hidden. Interestingly, dogs rewarded with toys selected the correct fence more often than dogs rewarded with food. Even though dogs' performance was not affected by the food quality condition, dogs were significantly faster in fetching a high-quality food reward as opposed to a low-quality food reward. When testing whether forgetting and checking would increase as a function of delay, we found that although dogs slightly decreased in their success in finding the food when time delays were longer, they were not more likely to check before choosing. We show that -- similar to apes -- dogs seek additional information in uncertain situations, but their behavior in uncertain situations is less flexible compared to great apes.