Masters Thesis

Examination of the surrogate conditioned motivating operation to influence eating behavior in pigeons

Successful demonstrations of the surrogate conditioned motivating operation (S-CMO) have been elusive in psychological literature throughout the years. Of the previous studies that have demonstrated the presence of an S-CMO, replications of these studies have often failed to produce the same results (Mineka, 1975). The present study attempted to establish a gradually increasing light and sound stimulus as an S-CMO for food consumption in pigeons, as well as identify the relevant features that contributed to the positive results of previous literature. After repeated pairings of light and sound stimuli with food deprivation, testing was conducted at a moderate level of deprivation to determine if a pigeon’s eating behavior was influenced by the stimuli. Results did not support an S-CMO effect for any of the subjects. Although researchers utilized procedures closely resembling those implemented in previous studies that demonstrated an effect (Gorenflo, 2014), the current study was unable to replicate those results, adding to the elusiveness of establishing external stimuli as S-CMOs.