Assessing Symmetry by Comparing the Acquisition of Symmetric and Nonsymmetric Conditional Relations in a Capuchin Monkey

Paulo S. D. Soares Filho, Álvaro J. M. Silva, Saulo M Velasco, Romariz S Barros, Gerson Yukio Tomanari


The present study presents a procedure to assess the property of symmetry by comparing the acquisition of conditional relations that are consistent and inconsistent with this property in a capuchin monkey (Sapajus spp.). One young male monkey underwent arbitrary matching-to-sample training. The experiment had four phases: Phase 1.1 (establishing A1B1 and A2B2 relations), Phase 1.2 (reinforcing B1A1 and B2A2 relations, consistent with the property of symmetry), Phase 2.1 (establishing A3B3 and A4B4 relations), and Phase 2.2 (reinforcing B3A4 and B4A3 relations, inconsistent with the property of symmetry). A comparison between Phase 1.2 (consistent) and Phase 2.2 (inconsistent) showed faster acquisition of consistent relations (B1A1 and B2A2) than inconsistent relations (B3A4 and B4A3). The results suggest that the established conditional discriminations may have the property of symmetry and confirm the potential of comparative analysis between the acquisition of conditional discriminations as a promising procedure to evaluate equivalence class formation in nonhuman subjects.


Conditional discrimination; Equivalence class formation; Symmetry; Sapajus spp

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