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Social learning in animals is said to occur when direct or

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Social learning in animals is said to occur when direct or [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 12:16
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social-learning-in-animals-is-said-to-occur-when-direct-or-21724.html#p143000

Social learning in animals is said to occur when direct or indirect social interaction facilitates the acquisition of a novel behavior. It usually takes the form of an experienced animal (the demonstrator) performing a behavior such that the naïve animal (the observer) subsequently expresses the same behavior sooner, or more completely, than it would have otherwise. One example of social learning is the acquisition of preferences for novel foods.


Some experiments have suggested that among mammals, social learning facilitates the identification of beneficial food items, but that among birds, social learning helps animals avoid toxic substances. For example, one study showed that when red-wing blackbirds observed others consuming a colored food or a food in a distinctly marked container and then becoming ill, they subsequently avoided food associated with that color or container. Another experiment showed that house sparrows consumed less red food after they observed others eating red food that was treated so as to be noxious. Studies on nonavian species have not produced similar results, leading researchers to speculate that avian social learning may be fundamentally different from that of mammals.


But Sherwin’s recent experiments with domestic hens do not support the notion that avian social learning necessarily facilitates aversion to novel foods that are noxious or toxic. Even when demonstrator hens reacted with obvious disgust to a specific food, via vigorous head shaking and bill wiping, there was no evidence that observers subsequently avoided eating that food. Sherwin’s research team speculated that ecological or social constraints during the evolution of this species might have resulted in there being little benefit from the social learning of unpalatability, for instance, selective pressures for this mode of learning would be reduced if the birds rarely encountered noxious or toxic food or rarely interacted after eating such food, or if the consequences of ingestion were minimal. In a related experiment, the same researchers showed that if observer hens watched demonstrator hens react favorably to food of a particular color, then observer hens ate more food of that color than they ate of food of other colors. These results confirmed that avian species can develop preferences for palatable food through social learning.



According to the passage, which of the following is true of the experiments on domestic hens conducted by Sherwin's research team?
(A)Only a small number of observer hens appeared to learn to avoid food that was demonstrated by other hens to be noxious.
(B)Observer hens ingested food preferentially only after numerous instances of witnessing demonstrator hens preferentially ingest that type of food.
(C)Observer hens appeared unable to recognize when demonstrator hens found a particular food especially palatable.
(D)Demonstrator hens reacted adversely to ingesting certain novel foods.
(E)Demonstrator hens altered their behavior less obviously in response to noxious foods than in response to highly palatable foods.


Why is D incorrect?
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Re: Social learning in animals is said to occur when direct [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 13:04
I would say D is not explicitly incorrect but is not the best answer here because the option E is more comprehensive and summarizes the whole set of experiments mentioned in the 3rd passage. Whereas D just mentions one part of the behaviour shown specifically by the demonstrator chickens(here again it is mentioned that the hens reacted with disgust and in the option D it is mentioned that the reaction was adverse - sounds like a stretch!)
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Re: Social learning in animals is said to occur when direct [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 16:48
Pansi wrote:
I would say D is not explicitly incorrect but is not the best answer here because the option E is more comprehensive and summarizes the whole set of experiments mentioned in the 3rd passage. Whereas D just mentions one part of the behaviour shown specifically by the demonstrator chickens(here again it is mentioned that the hens reacted with disgust and in the option D it is mentioned that the reaction was adverse - sounds like a stretch!)


'Must be true' question must be true. I don't think that MBT questions are 'best' or 'worse' --- they are true! :) I have requested Karishma to help us. Let's wait for her response....
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Re: Social learning in animals is said to occur when direct [#permalink] New post 27 Oct 2012, 19:13
Expert's post
voodoochild wrote:
According to the passage, which of the following is true of the experiments on domestic hens conducted by Sherwin's research team?
(A)Only a small number of observer hens appeared to learn to avoid food that was demonstrated by other hens to be noxious.
(B)Observer hens ingested food preferentially only after numerous instances of witnessing demonstrator hens preferentially ingest that type of food.
(C)Observer hens appeared unable to recognize when demonstrator hens found a particular food especially palatable.
(D)Demonstrator hens reacted adversely to ingesting certain novel foods.
(E)Demonstrator hens altered their behavior less obviously in response to noxious foods than in response to highly palatable foods.


Why is D incorrect?


I will not mark D as the right answer because of two reasons:

1. (E) is obviously something that you can conclude from the experiments. Hence, E is certainly fine.

2. The words chosen for D aren't the most appropriate. The hens reacted with disgust. 'Adverse reaction' means 'unexpected result that causes significant or life threatening conditions'. The passage only says they reacted with disgust. We don't know if there were any repercussions of ingesting that food. Also, they reacted with disgust to novel foods that were noxious/toxic. 'certain novel foods' is not clear enough. That said, if I were making the passage, I would probably not put D as is as one of the options since 'reacting adversely' could be construed as 'reacting with disgust' and 'certain novel foods' could point to 'novel food that were noxious/toxic'. But given that the question is what it is, (E) is true but (D) could imply something we don't know to be true.
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Re: Social learning in animals is said to occur when direct   [#permalink] 27 Oct 2012, 19:13
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