Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2012


Marine mammals at some managed care facilities have been trained to respond to a “create” SD, which specifies the request to complete any behavior of their choice. The goal of the study was to identify the influences of Reinforcement Theory and behavioral request frequency in “create” responses, and identify behaviors to be used with the Premack Principle for each subject. The two-month reinforcement history of three Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) was analyzed, and subjects were then observed in the “create” paradigm. In both phases, training sessions were analyzed for behavior type, request frequency, and reinforcement type, magnitude, and schedule. Results suggested 66 – 75% of the responses to the create SD were behaviors that occurred with a minimum frequency of 0.5 times session-1 in the history portion of the study. Meaningful trends were identified, however, results did not correlate linearly with Reinforcement Theory. This suggests that other factors may influence creative responses, such as observational learning, the serial position effect, individual differences, and learning context. The importance of establishing the value of reinforcers is discussed.


Department: MBF

MPS Track: MMS

Location: Dolphins Plus (Key Largo, FL)

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