The development of emergent differential sample behavior in pigeons

Peter J. Urcuioli, Jada N. Pierce, Karen M. Lionello-DeNolf, Andrea Friedrich, J. Gregor Fetterman, Courtney Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Three experiments attempted to replicate Manabe, Kawashima, and Staddon's (1995) finding of emergent differential sample behavior in budgerigars that has been interpreted as evidence of functional equivalence class formation. In Experiments 1 and 2, pigeons initially learned two-sample/ two-alternative matching to sample in which comparison presentation was contingent on pecking one ample on a differential-reinforcement-of-low-rate (DRL) schedule and the other on a fixedratio (FR) schedule. Later, two new samples were added to the task. Comparison presentation on these trials occurred after the first sample peck following a predetermined interval (Experiment 1) or after completion of either the DRL or FR requirement, whichever occurred first (Experiment 2). Experiment 1 found no evidence for emergent spaced versus rapid responding to the new samples as they established conditional control over the familiar choices. By contrast, differential responding did emerge for some pigeons in Experiment 2, with responding to each new sample coinciding with the pattern explicitly conditioned to the original sample occasioning the same comparison choice. This emergent effect, however, disappeared for most pigeons with continued training. Experiment 3 systematically replicated Experiment 2 using differential peck location as the sample behavior. Differential location pecking emerged to the new samples for most pigeons and remained intact throughout training. Our findings demonstrate a viable pigeon analogue to the budgerigar emergent calling paradigm and are discussed in terms of equivalence-and non-equivalence-based processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-432
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Acquired equivalence
  • Adventitious reinforcement
  • Differential sample responding
  • Emergent behavior
  • Key peck
  • Pigeons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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