Different types of social relationships can influence individual learning strategies in structured groups of animals. Studies on a number of avian species have suggested that local and/or stimulus enhancement are important ingredients of the respective species' exploration modes. Our aim was to identify the role of enhancement during object manipulation in different social contexts. We used focal observations to identify a linear dominance hierarchy as well as affiliative relationships between individuals in a group of 14 Goffin's cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana, formerly goffini). Thereafter, in an unrewarded object choice task, several pairs of subjects were tested for a possible influence of social enhancement (local vs. stimulus) in three conditions: dominance, affiliation, and kinship. Our results suggest strong individual biases. Whereas previous studies on ravens and kea had indicated that enhancement in a non-food-related task was influenced by the social relationship between a demonstrator and an observer (affiliated – nonaffiliated), we found no such effects in our study group. In this context, Goffin's cockatoos' object learning seems to take place more on an individual level, despite their generally high motivation to manipulate nonfood items.
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- Avian cognition
- Social learning
- Dominance hierarchy