University of Florida
One of Carla’s primary research interests has been examining behavior in a comparative context, assessing similarities and differences across humans and other animals. In her first experiment along these lines, she studied risky choice in both humans and pigeons under closely analogous experimental conditions. The aim was to better align the methodologies used with different species in order to distinguish genuine species differences from differences in procedure. To that end, a token-reinforcement system was used with both species, in which arbitrary stimuli were earned and later exchanged for consumable-type reinforcers: food for pigeons and video segments from favorite TV programs for humans. Results were roughly similar across species and indicated that when procedural differences were minimized, performances across species were brought into greater accord. These data, and this type of comparative analysis in general, provide important information about the continuity of choice patterns across species and the degree to which principles discovered in the animal laboratory can be extended to more complex human activity.
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