The Mental Life of Monkeys and Apes eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 205 pages of information about The Mental Life of Monkeys and Apes.

On April 30 the reward of food was given only when the first choice was that of the right box and in that event it was placed in the alleyway H as stated above.

As it seemed absolutely essential to break the unprofitable habit of choosing the nearest door, on May 3 a new series of settings was presented, in which only the doors to the left of the middle of the row of nine boxes were used as right doors.  That is, in this new series, doors 1 to 4 occur as right doors; 5 to 9 do not.  As punishment for wrong choices on this date, Julius was confined in the wrong box from one to five minutes.  It was difficult to keep him in, but by means of cords which had been attached to the doors, this was successfully accomplished.  Yet another and slightly different series of settings was employed on May 4, and this, proving satisfactory, was continued in use until the end of the experiment, with punishment ranging from sixty to one hundred and twenty seconds for each mistake.

Naturally the modification of settings introduced May 3 greatly increased the proportion of wrong first choices.  Indeed, as appears in table 8, the ratio of right to wrong immediately changed from 1:0.67 to 1:4.00.  Between May 3 and May 10, no steady and consistent improvement in method or in the number of correct first choices occurred, and on the last named date, Julius chose correctly only three times in his ten trials.  At this time there was, as my notes record, no satisfactory indication of progress, and the status of the experiment seemed extremely unsatisfactory in as much as in spite of the experimenter’s best efforts to break up the habit of choosing the nearest door, the orang utan still persisted, to a considerable extent, in the use of this method.  The only encouraging feature of the results was an evident tendency to choose somewhat nearer the left end of a group than previously.

TABLE 8

Results for Orang utan in Problem 1

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