Kara Clissold Presents Research at Symposium

Study looks at the effect of social dominance on social learning in horses.  


Kara Clissold ’09 presented, “The Effect of Social Dominance on Social Learning in Horses (Equus caballus)” at Randolph College’s Symposium for Artists & Scholars on April 18, 2009.

Clissold conducted the research project with her faculty mentor, Dennis Goff, professor of psychology, while an undergraduate student at Randolph College.

An abstract of Clissold’s project follows...

Observational learning has been demonstrated in many animal species; however, no experimental evidence has been found to support observational learning in horses, although they are demonstrably intelligent and highly social. This research examines how social dominance mitigates modeling behavior in horses. The dominance hierarchy within two horse herds was determined by observing instances of aggressive and submissive behavior and asking regular handlers to rate the dominance of each horse. A medium-dominance horse was trained to a visual discrimination task for a food reward and demonstrated the task to other horses within its herd over three days. Latency and discrimination choice of observer horses for the same discrimination task was measured. It is hypothesized that there will be a difference in the performance of the observer horses in modeling the discrimination behavior of the demonstrating horse based on the relative dominance status of each observer horse to the demonstrator.

The Student Symposium of Artists and Scholars provides Randolph College students from all classes and disciplines the opportunity to present the results of their research, scholarship, and creative work to the entire College community and beyond.

The two-day symposium, modeled after a typical academic conference, features oral presentations of student research, readings of creative work, musical performances, and exhibitions of student artwork. The symposium also includes a poster session, reception and a keynote address from a noteworthy academic speaker.

Learn more at www.randolphcollege.edu/sas