Reinforcement accounts for transitive inference performance

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91 Scopus citations


Transitive inference is the ability, given that A >B and B >C, to infer that A >C. Pigeons, rats, chimpanzees, squirrel monkeys, and humans as young as 4 years have all been shown capable of this. In this paper, simple associative learning models are explored as accounts of nonverbal transitive inference performance. A Bush-Mosteller-based model can account for transitive inference under limited conditions. A Rescorla-Wagner-based model can account for transitive inference under all conditions in the literature, but cannot account for some additional nontransitive tests. A final configural model can also account for these nontransitive data. The ability of this model to account for transitive inference formation in humans is also considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-217
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Learning & Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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