Abstract

Prior research on the ability to solve the Piagetian invisible displacement task has focused on prerequisite representational capacity. This study examines the additional prerequisite of deduction. As in other tasks (e.g., conservation and transitivity), it is difficult to distinguish between behavior that reflects logical inference from behavior that reflects associative generalization. Using the role of negation in logic whereby negative feedback about one belief increases the certainty of another (e.g., a disjunctive syllogism), task-naive dogs (Canis fantiliaris; n = 19) and 4- to 6-year-pld children (Homo sapiens; n = 24) were given a task wherein a desirable object was shown to have disappeared from a container after it had passed behind 3 separate screens. As predicted, children (as per logic of negated disjunction) tended to increase their speed of checking the 3rd screen after failing to find the object behind the first 2 screens, whereas dogs (as per associative extinction) tended to significantly decrease their speed of checking the 3rd screen after failing to find the object behind the first 2 screens.