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Published:March 14th, 2013 23:29 EST
Cockatoos Shown to Have Self-Control

Cockatoos Shown to Have Self-Control

By John Pustelnik

Cockatoos have been shown to demonstrate self-control, an ability usually associated with animals that have bigger brains.

The ability of self-control has been studied in human infants in the 1970`s.


The premise of the self-control is experiment is that a child is given a tasty snack. They have the option to eat it right away. If they choose not to eat it right away, they are rewarded with another snack along with the original.

Interestingly enough, children who demonstrated self-control were generally found to do better in life as an adult.

The experiment was the same with cockatoos, only a little more difficult.

"The animals were allowed to pick up an initial food item and given the opportunity to return it directly into the experimenter`s hand after an increasing time delay. If the initial food item had not been nibbled by this time, the bird received another reward of an even higher preferred food type or of a larger quantity than the initial food in exchange," said Isabelle Laumer, conductor of the study at the Goffin Lab at the University of Vienna. "Although we picked pecan nuts as an initial reward which were highly liked by the birds and would under normal circumstances be consumed straight away, we found that all 14 of the birds waited for food of higher quality, such as a cashew nut, for up to 80 seconds."

Since cockatoos don`t have hands to place food into, the cockatoos had to wait patiently with the food in their beaks. It`s the equivalent of putting food in a child`s mouth and telling them not to eat it.

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