Stimulus Preferences and Imprinting

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Science  09 Jun 1967:
Vol. 156, Issue 3780, pp. 1394-1396
DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3780.1394


Pekin ducklings were tested with respect to their preference for approaching one of two simultaneously presented, rotating, silent duck decoys, painted in a variety of colors or patterns. Some of the ducklings had not been given any previous visual experience other than that gained in a 20-minute introduction to the empty apparatus; others had previously been given the opportunity to follow one particular decoy for 20 minutes. The decoys could be grouped into three categories: those in the first category were treated as equivalent, that is, so long as the duckling had followed one of these models it would approach either. The decoys of the second category were ones to which "imprinting" occurred, that is, the ducklings showed a decided preference for the model they had originally followed, whichever it was. The third category included models, one of which was always preferred, though the controls showed no such preference. The effects of the imprinting procedure vary with the stimuli presented.