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Innate Visual Form Preferences in the Pecking Behavior of Young Chicks

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1. Young chicks from the age of 1 to 91/2 days were tested daily for unrewarded two-dimensional form preferences in pecking behavior. 2. Forms having a 049 square inch area were found to be preferred, from high to low, as follows: serrated circle, oval, circle, hexagon, star, pentagon, square, rectangle, and diamond. 3. Chicks that were shown the same forms in a smaller size, .012 square inches in area, preferred them in the same order except that star shifted to last place. The smaller forms elicited a higher level of pecking behavior than did the large ones. 4. There were found increases in pecking behavior as a function of age up to the age of 5 days, after which there was a plateau. Up to (but not including) and after the age of 6-61/2 days the order of preferences for the forms was the same. 5. The disruption of the preference hierarchy at the age of 6-61/2 days is discussed in relation to the food imprinting that HESS (1962, 1964) has demonstrated to occur in chicks.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Chicago, U.S.A.


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