Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Shearer, William M.||Rose, Darrell E.||Lerea, Louis

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Speech


Conditioned response; Imprinting (Psychology)


This study was undertaken to investigate the possible existence of a prenatal auditory imprinting capacity in White Rock (Gallus gallus) chickens, and to determine the extent to which such a capacity would influence postnatal behavior. Eighty one White Rock (Gallus gallus) domestic chickens obtained from the De Kalb Agricultural Association were used as subjects in this study. The present study consisted of three separate experiments. Experimental subjects were incubated and bombarded with sound stimuli several days prior to hatching. Immediately after hatching each subject was examined for signs of auditory imprinting by means of discrimination, recognition, and "follow" tests. Subjects receiving the discrimination test were placed in the center of a circular board four feet in diameter with two small speakers mounted at angles of 0 and 180 degrees. Through the speakers, both the imprinting sound and an alien sound were introduced in a counterbalanced fashion. Subjects were measured in terms of distance and number of seconds traveled toward the speaker emitting either of the two sounds. In the recognition and the following test, subjects were placed in the center of the same circular board and exposed to a toy chicken with a small speaker mounted on its back. The speaker emitted both the imprinting and the alien sounds in separate trials. Subjects here were measured in terms of distance and number of seconds followed in three passes of the toy chicken: (1) pass with no sound (2) pass with imprinting sound and (3) pass emitting the alien sound. The control group was incubated and hatched without exposure to sound stimuli and thereafter they were administered the above mentioned test. All subjects were randomly assigned to various groups. Results of this study suggest presence of an auditory imprinting capacity in prenatal White Rock chickens. Several t-tests performed on the derived scores indicated that distance and number of seconds traveled toward the imprinting sound in the second experiment were statistically significant. Control subjects revealed no particular preference for either sound stimulus.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


iii, 38 pages




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