Personality and predisposition to form habit behaviours during instrumental conditioning in horses Equus caballusReportar como inadecuado

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The relationship between personality and learning abilities has become a growing field of interest. Studies have mainly focused on the relationship with performance, such as the speed of acquisition. In this study, we hypothesised that personality could in part also be related to a certain predisposition of an individual to switch more easily from a goal-directed process to a habit process during learning. To identify these processes, we conducted a contingency degradation protocol. This study investigated 1- whether in general horses are able to adjust their response according to the contingency between their action and the reward, 2- whether there are any relationships between certain personality profiles and a predisposition to switch more rapidly to habitual processes, and 3- whether emotional states experienced during the learning procedure play a role in this switching. Personality tests were conducted on 29 horses, followed by a degradation contingency protocol. Overall, results show that horses were sensitive to contingency degradation between their action and the reward. Nevertheless, there was inter-individual variability: the horses presenting high fearfulness, and to a lesser extent low sensory sensitivity and low gregariousness were less sensitive to the degradation, demonstrating that they were more likely to switch to a habitual process. Contrary to our expectations, the emotional state experienced during the procedure did not seem to explain this switching. We conclude that personality is not only related to learning performance, but also in part to the process involved during learning, independently of the emotion experienced during the process. This study provides new theoretical knowledge on cognitive skills in ungulates.

Autor: Léa Lansade , Alain R. Marchand , Etienne Coutureau , Cyrielle Ballé , Floriane Polli , Ludovic Calandreau



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