Computerized Learning Tasks in a Social Group of Rhesus Monkeys: Social Demographics and Timing Open Access

Hassett, Janice M (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/v118rd82w?locale=en
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Abstract


Abstract
Computerized Learning Tasks in a Social Group of Rhesus Monkeys:
Social Demographics and Timing
By Janice M. Hassett
To understand learning fully, we must examine learning in its most natural form: in
complex physical and social contexts, and under the control of the learner.
We developed a computerized testing or "kiosk" system that allowed voluntary self-
regulated participation in learning tasks by over 100 members of a rhesus monkey social
group. We examined social demographic influences on participation and the relationship
between self-regulated participation and performance. Age, social rank, and sex were the
three primary demographic factors of interest and predictions were based on previous
studies of learning in monkey groups and on social demographic effects on object
manipulation, attraction to novelty, competitive access to food, and general behavior.
Effects of age were consistent with predictions, with young monkeys showing earlier
engagement with the kiosk and higher rates of participation, even compared to young
adult subjects. These effects emphasize the importance of understanding differences in
motivation between subject groups tested in any context. Social rank effects, as
predicted, were apparent only in initial access and participation rates, dissipating as the
study progressed, and presumably as subjects learned that they were not competing for
access to easily depleted food rewards. Contrary to predictions, no sex differences were
observed in participation. The second set of hypotheses focused on timing of
participation and its relationship to task acquisition and performance, and predictions
drew from literature on self-efficacy, preference for control, and incubation effects in
problem-solving. Most learning studies do not examine the actual time course of task
acquisition, but we expected that timing of participation in our context might reveal
interesting effects. Participation was positively related to performance, such that subjects
participated more when performance was high, and less when performance was low. In
addition, a subset of subjects that required fewer trials to acquire a task appeared to
benefit from taking longer breaks between trials. These findings suggest patterns of
learning that might not be revealed by more restricted learning contexts, and emphasize
the importance of more flexible environments that allow for natural temporal shifts in
learning engagement. The importance of all findings for our understanding of learning
motivation is discussed.



Computerized Learning Tasks in a Social Group of Rhesus Monkeys:
Social Demographics and Timing
By
Janice M. Hassett
B.A., Carleton College, 2003
M.A., Emory University, 2005
Advisor: Kim Wallen, Ph.D.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the
James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
in Psychology
2011

Table of Contents


Table of Contents


General Introduction
1
Learning in complex social settings 6
Computerized testing system and novelty
17
Age
19
Social status 22
Sex
25
Self-regulated participation and performance
27
Spontaneous acquisition and participation: incubation
31
Summary
33
References
34
Social demographic influences on voluntary participation in computerized learning
tasks in a rhesus monkey social group
46

Abstract
47

Introduction 49

Methods
57


Subjects
57


RFID implant procedures
60


Apparatus
61


Materials
65


Training plan and software design
66


Kiosk maintenance
76


Data collection and extraction
76

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