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Defying Food - How Distance Determines Monkeys' Ability to Inhibit Reaching for Food

, : Defying Food - How Distance Determines Monkeys' Ability to Inhibit Reaching for Food. Frontiers in Psychology 7: 158-158

Objects, such as food, in the environment automatically activate and facilitate affordances, the possibilities for motoric movements in interaction with the objects. Previous research has shown that affordance activation is contingent upon the distance of the object with only proximal objects activating potential movements. However, the effect of affordance-activating proximal objects on the ability to inhibit movements has been unaddressed. The current study addressed this question with two experiments on long-tailed macaques. In both experiments monkeys were situated behind a Plexiglass screen that prevented direct access to food placed right behind the screen. The food could only be reached via a detour through one of two holes on the sides of the screen. It was assessed whether monkeys' ability to inhibit the unsuccessful immediate reaching movement forward toward the food depended on the distance at which the food was presented. Results of both Experiments revealed that monkeys reached for the proximally positioned food significantly more than for the distally positioned food, despite this Plexiglass screen preventing successful obtainment of the food. The findings reveal the effect of proximal, affordance-activating objects on the ability to resist movements involved in interacting with the objects. Implications for humans, living in environments in which proximal, or accessible food is constantly available are discussed. The findings can contribute to an understanding of why resisting accessible food in the environment is often unsuccessful.


PMID: 26925001

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00158

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