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The Development of a Behavior System: Dustbathing in the Burmese Red Junglefowl. Iii. Effects of Experience On Stimulus Preference

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Two experiments were designed to study the development of the perceptual mechanism that recognizes dust. We examined the effects of early experience with a variety of substrates on the choice of a substrate for dustbathing. In the first experiment, chicks were given experience with one substrate: black or white sand or a skin of junglefowl feathers. In a choice test, there was an overwhelming preference for the black sand both as a dustbathing and a pecking substrate, regardless of early experience. Nonetheless, some of the birds exposed to white sand or feathers as the training stimulus did become entrained to dustbathe on these substrates. In the second experiment, chicks were given equal experience with each of four substrates: white, normal, and dark sand, and sawdust. In the choice tests, the birds dustbathed in the substrates in the same proportion that they dustbathed during training when only one stimulus was available at a time. The birds preferred to dustbathe in the normal sand, but preferred to peck at sawdust. The experiments show that both the stimulus properties of a substrate and the kind of experience a bird has dustbathing in a substrate determine whether a bird develops a tendency to find that substrate suitable for dustbathing.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada M5S 1A1


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