Think of the word “intelligence”. What does it mean to say that an animal is smart? How can you tell if animals are really smart? After all, animals cannot speak or use words. They cannot express ideas and cannot learn history or spell.
Still, animals are capable of doing many things. Perhaps your goldfish floats to the surface in search of food as you move near its tank. Alternatively, your cat may ring the doorbell when she wants to enter the house. Many other animals can even perform tricks and tasks. Circuses are filled with dancing bears, playful sea lions, industrious elephants and horses. Such behavior is often misunderstood as an indication of intelligence. As you will see, performing tricks is definitely not an intellectual trait. Intelligence is the ability to reason. It is the sudden ignition of an idea or the ability to solve a new problem directly, also drawing on past experience. You don’t need to be able to think, think, or have ideas while performing tricks and tasks.
Tricks can be learned by learning special types. One way to learn is by trial and error. The other thing is to be responsive. It is important to understand how such learning behaviors work. Then we can understand the difference between tricks and really smart behavior.
One of the most difficult problems for psychologists is to figure out ways to test intelligence. Conditional answers are not signs of intelligence. Nonetheless, they are part of the behavior of the animal, so they can help psychologists compare the differences in animal learning styles. Animals are also conditioned in other ways. They can learn to avoid a place or object by being given a light, harmless electric shock. Some may even be forced to change their normal behavior. Almost all animals born from flatworms can be conditioned. Another way of learning is through trial and error. The best known method of trial and error is the maze.
Labyrinths are based on the same idea; that is, the animal entering the entrance must find the exit. In execution he finds many branches. The animal must select each branch or fork. If she chooses the wrong one, she will fall into a deadlock. Then you have to go back to go the other way. Several times an animal can run through the maze without making mistakes. The reward at the end is a piece of food for a hungry animal. Labyrinths can be very simple or very difficult, depending on the goals of psychologists. Experiments have shown that ants can master very complex labyrinths, as well as frogs, turtles, rats, cockroaches and crabs.
Another way to learn trial and error is to place the animal in a box. Food is placed outdoors and the animal can only reach the food by unlocking the door. The animal must then open the same door to enter the box. In both cases, the problem is the same: come up with a lock to open the door. It has been found that raccoons can learn to open really complex locks. Monkeys can also open the locks in a special order, but their bad climate sometimes makes it difficult to work. Initially, humans took as long as monkeys to open the locks in a special order. But when they found out, they were much faster. The reason people took so long is quite simple. It is impossible to figure out the order by looking at the lock, because learning an order is a form of trial and error. Insight or reasoning here does not help much more than the labyrinths. So, in the early stages of trial and error learning, people were not fast either.