When humans and animals interact with one another over an extended time span they familiarise and may develop a relationship, which can exert an influence on both partners. For example, the behaviour of an animal in experiments may be affected by its relationship to the human experimenter. However, few studies have systematically examined the impact of human–animal relationships on experimental results. In the present study we investigated if familiarity with a human experimenter influences the performance of Common ravens (Corvus corax) and Carrion crows (Corvus corone corone) in interactive tasks. Birds were tested in two interactive cognitive tasks (exchange, object choice) by several experimenters representing different levels of familiarity (long and short-term). Our findings show that the birds participated more often in both tasks and were more successful in the exchange task when working with long-term experimenters than when working with short-term experimenters. Behavioural observations indicate that anxiety did not inhibit experimental performance but that the birds’ motivation to work differed between the two kinds of experimenters, familiar and less familiar. We conclude that human–animal relationships (i.e. familiarity) may affect the experimental performance of corvids in interactive cognitive tasks.
|Publication Title||Behavioural Processes|
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