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Questioning the developmental effects of group size on cognitive abilities

Authors
  • Lambert, Connor T.1
  • Sewall, Kendra B.2
  • Guillette, Lauren M.1, 3
  • 1 University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada , Edmonton (Canada)
  • 2 Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA , Blacksburg (United States)
  • 3 University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK , St Andrews (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Learning & Behavior
Publisher
Springer US
Publication Date
Nov 20, 2019
Volume
47
Issue
4
Pages
280–283
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3758/s13420-019-00395-4
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Australian magpies living in larger social groups learned quicker and made fewer errors across four cognitive tasks compared with birds living in smaller social groups, and this pattern may be driven by a developmental effect associated with the cognitive demands of living in larger groups. While Smulders (2018, Learning and Behavior, 1–2, doi:10.3758/s13420-018-0335-0) questioned whether this group size–cognitive performance pattern was driven by motivation rather than cognitive abilities, we question whether there is truly evidence of a developmental effect and whether the relationship between group size and cognitive performance can be explained in other ways. We highlight potential alternative explanations for the relationship between group size and cognitive performance and highlight some of the theoretical issues underlying the developmental effects of group size on cognitive abilities.

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