Behav. Sci.2014, 4(3), 213-225; doi:10.3390/bs4030213 (doi registration under processing) - published online 25 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Once believed to be a human prerogative, the capacity to discriminate between quantities now has also been reported in several vertebrates. To date, only two studies investigated numerical abilities in horses (Equus caballus) but reported contrasting data. To assess whether horses can be trained to discriminate between quantities, I have set up a new experimental protocol using operant conditioning. One adult female was trained to discriminate between 1 and 4 (Test 1) in three different conditions: non-controlled continuous variables (numerical and continuous quantities that co-vary with number are simultaneously available), 50% controlled continuous variables (intermediate condition), and 100% controlled continuous variables (only numerical information available). The subject learned the discrimination in all conditions, showing the capacity to process numerical information. When presented with a higher numerical ratio (2 vs. 4, Test 2), the subject still discriminated between the quantities but its performance was statistically significant only in the non-controlled condition, suggesting that the subject used multiple cues in presence of a more difficult discrimination. On the whole, the results here reported encourage the use of this experimental protocol as a valid tool to investigate the capacity to process numerical and continuous quantities in horses in future research.
Behav. Sci.2014, 4(3), 202-212; doi:10.3390/bs4030202 - published online 17 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A better understanding of when and why nudges (e.g., defaults, visibility or accessibility alterations) and other structural behavior-change measures work or fail can help avoid subsequent surprises such as unexpected political opposition. In this paper, we challenge the unilateral focus on structural interventions—which seemingly control people's behavioral decisions—as such a focus ignores the flipside—namely, attitudes or, as they are called in economics, preferences. We argue for a conceptual understanding of individual behavior that views personal attitudes and behavioral costs as its two separate compensatorily effective determinants. This classical understanding was reintroduced into attitude research as the Campbell paradigm. In the logic of the Campbell paradigm, a person's attitude becomes obvious in the face of the behavioral costs the person surmounts. Technically, individual attitudes reveal themselves in a set of cost-dependent transitively ordered performances. Behavioral costs in turn reflect the structural boundary conditions that are relevant as obstructive and/or supportive environmental forces that generically affect a specific behavior. So far, our research on people’s attitudes toward environmental protection has demonstrated that the Campbell paradigm—and thus its conceptual account of individual behavior—holds true for approximately 95% of the people in a given society.
Behav. Sci.2014, 4(3), 181-201; doi:10.3390/bs4030181 - published online 8 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The spatial organisation of museums and its influence on the visitor experience has been the subject of numerous studies. Previous research, despite reporting some actual behavioural correlates, rarely had the possibility to investigate the cognitive processes of the art viewers. In the museum context, where spatial layout is one of the most powerful curatorial tools available, attention and memory can be measured as a means of establishing whether or not the gallery fulfils its function as a space for contemplating art. In this exploratory experiment, 32 participants split into two groups explored an experimental, non-public exhibition and completed two unanticipated memory tests afterwards. The results show that some spatial characteristics of an exhibition can inhibit the recall of pictures and shift the focus to perceptual salience of the artworks.
Behav. Sci.2014, 4(3), 167-180; doi:10.3390/bs4030167 - published online 4 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Space-geometric measures are proposed to explain the location of fixations during wayfinding. Results from an eye tracking study based on real-world stimuli are analysed; the gaze bias shows that attention is paid to structural elements in the built environment. Three space-geometric measures are used to explain the data: sky area, floor area and longest line of sight. Together with the finding that participants choose the more connected street, a relationship is proposed between the individual cognitive processes that occur during wayfinding, relative street connectivity measured through space syntactic techniques and the spatial geometry of the environment. The paper adopts an egocentric approach to gain a greater understanding on how individuals process the axial map.
Behav. Sci.2014, 4(3), 154-166; doi:10.3390/bs4030154 - published online 4 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In this study, we propose two models for predicting people’s activity. The first model is the pedestrian distribution prediction (or postdiction) model by multiple regression analysis using space syntax indices of urban fabric and people distribution data obtained from a field survey. The second model is a street choice model for visitors using multinomial logit model. We performed a questionnaire survey on the field to investigate the strolling routes of 46 visitors and obtained a total of 1211 street choices in their routes. We proposed a utility function, sum of weighted space syntax indices, and other indices, and estimated the parameters for weights on the basis of maximum likelihood. These models consider both street networks, distance from destination, direction of the street choice and other spatial compositions (numbers of pedestrians, cars, shops, and elevation). The first model explains the characteristics of the street where many people tend to walk or stay. The second model explains the mechanism underlying the street choice of visitors and clarifies the differences in the weights of street choice parameters among the various attributes, such as gender, existence of destinations, number of people, etc. For all the attributes considered, the influences of DISTANCE and DIRECTION are strong. On the other hand, the influences of Int.V, SHOPS, CARS, ELEVATION, and WIDTH are different for each attribute. People with defined destinations tend to choose streets that “have more shops, and are wider and lower”. In contrast, people with undefined destinations tend to choose streets of high Int.V. The choice of males is affected by Int.V, SHOPS, WIDTH (positive) and CARS (negative). Females prefer streets that have many shops, and couples tend to choose downhill streets. The behavior of individual persons is affected by all variables. The behavior of people visiting in groups is affected by SHOP and WIDTH (positive).
Behav. Sci.2014, 4(2), 125-153; doi:10.3390/bs4020125 - published online 13 June 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Neurotensin (NT) is a neuropeptide that is closely associated with, and is thought to modulate, dopaminergic and other neurotransmitter systems involved in the pathophysiology of various mental disorders. This review outlines data implicating NT in the pathophysiology and management of major mental disorders such as schizophrenia, drug addiction, and autism. The data suggest that NT receptor analogs have the potential to be used as novel therapeutic agents acting through modulation of neurotransmitter systems dys-regulated in these disorders.