Sarah L. Jacobson

Sarah L. Jacobson
CUNY Graduate Center | CUNY · Program in Psychology

Master of Arts

About

34
Publications
5,615
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
188
Citations
Introduction
I am currently a PhD candidate studying cognitive and comparative psychology at City University of New York Graduate Center. My work focuses on the behavior and cognition of elephants. I am particularly interested in social cognition and behavior in many species and the application of this type of research to conservation strategies.
Skills and Expertise
Additional affiliations
July 2015 - present
Lincoln Park Zoo
Position
  • Research Assistant
Description
  • I conduct cognitive studies with captive chimpanzees and gorillas using physical problem-solving tasks and with Japanese macaques using touchscreen computers.
June 2014 - June 2015
Think Elephants International
Position
  • Research Assistant
Description
  • I developed research procedures and conducted research on elephant cognition with a captive population in Northern Thailand I also developed and presented information about elephant biology, behavior, and intelligence.

Publications

Publications (34)
Article
While researchers interested in the evolution of human intelligence have traditionally focused on the psychology of other primates, a growing field aims to understand how similar cognitive abilities emerge in evolutionarily distant taxa. Here, we briefly review what we know, and why we do not know more, about the ‘mind’ of one such animal — the ele...
Article
Full-text available
Innovative problem solving is considered a hallmark measure of behavioral flexibility as it describes behavior by which an animal manipulates its environment in a novel way to reach a goal. Elephants are a highly social taxa that have demonstrated a remarkable capacity for adapting to changing environments. To understand how individual differences...
Article
Full-text available
Elephants are well known for their socio-cognitive abilities and capacity for multi-modal sensory perception and communication. Their highly developed olfactory and acoustic senses provide them with a unique non-visual perspective of their physical and social worlds. The use of these complex sensory signals is important not only for communication b...
Preprint
Camera traps provide a virtual window into the natural world of wild animals, as they provide a noninvasive way to capture anatomical and behavioral information. Regular monitoring of wild populations through the collection of behavioral and demographic data is critical for the conservation of endangered species like the Asian elephant (Elephas max...
Preprint
Innovative problem solving is considered a hallmark measure of behavioral flexibility as it describes behavior by which an animal uses previous experience to manipulate its environment to reach a goal. Elephants are a highly social taxa known for their ability to adapt to volatile environments. While innovation has been observed in elephants, one q...
Article
Full-text available
The Stroop effect describes interference in cognitive processing due to competing cogni-tive demands. Presenting emotionally laden stimuli creates similar Stroop-like effects that result from participants' attention being drawn to distractor stimuli. Here, we adapted the methods of a pictorial Stroop study for use with chimpanzees (N = 6), gorillas...
Article
Full-text available
Primates' food preferences are typically assessed under conditions of certainty. To increase ecological validity, and to explore primates' decision making from a comparative perspective, we tested three primate species (Pan troglodytes, Gorilla gorilla gorilla, Macaca fuscata) (N = 18) in two food-preference tests that created different conditions...
Article
Full-text available
Cognitive flexibility allows individuals to adapt to novel situations. However, this ability appears to develop slowly over the first few years of life, mediated by task complexity and opacity. We used a physically simple novel task, previously tested with nonhuman primates, to explore the development of flexible problem solving in 2-, 3-, and 4-ye...
Article
Full-text available
The three living species of elephants (Elephas maximus, Loxodonta africana, L. cyclotis) have evolved adaptive, sensory perceptual abilities to successfully navigate the physical and social environments in which they live. In this article, we review research evaluating the sensory perception of elephants across four sensory modalities—vision, audit...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding captive animals’ preferences is important for their care and management. However, pairwise testing for preference can be time consuming, open to bias, and typically restricted to stimuli that can be presented manually. We tested the efficacy of using touchscreens to test zoo-housed primates’ food preferences and evaluated the primates...
Article
Full-text available
Using methods comparable to those used previously to test closely related taxa (Pan troglodytes and Macaca mulatta), our aim was to better understand how gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Japanese macaques (M. fuscata) learn sequences. Using a disappearing-type simultaneous chain, we trained 5 gorillas and 8 macaques on a 2-item list of color...
Article
Cognitive testing programs are being implemented more frequently in zoo settings due to the benefits these programs can provide for the animals, researchers and zoo visitors. However, the impact that cognitive studies have on the welfare of captive animals, particularly for primates in a social group, is debated. Although cognitive testing can be...
Article
Full-text available
In contrast to reports of wild primates, studies of captive primates' flexibility often reveal conservatism: individuals are unable to switch to new and more efficient strategies when task demands change. We propose that such conservatism might be a result of task design and hypothesize that conservatism might be linked to primates' lack of causal...
Article
Full-text available
In the zoo environment, anthropogenic noise is common as sound levels fluctuate due to visitors, construction, habitat design, and special events. In this study, changes in the mood of three species of zoo-housed primates in response to a loud annual event were evaluated with the response-slowing paradigm. In this paradigm, animals experiencing anx...
Article
Full-text available
Experiences during early development are influential on the lives of human and non-human primates into adulthood. The population of captive chimpanzees in the USA can provide insight into this relationship, as collectively they have experienced a wide range of exposure to both conspecifics (those raised in natal groups) and humans (those raised as...
Article
Full-text available
Background Studying animal cognition in a social setting is associated with practical and statistical challenges. However, conducting cognitive research without disturbing species-typical social groups can increase ecological validity, minimize distress, and improve animal welfare. Here, we review the existing literature on cognitive research run w...
Data
Published experiments of primate cognition in a social setting (2000-2015) The publications that reported tests of primate cognition in a social setting published between 2000 and 2015 (inclusive), sorted by species, with one entry per unique combination of environment type and species per publication.
Article
Full-text available
Zoo-housed animals are provided with many temporary elements in their exhibit, such as environmental enrichment devices (EEDs), which may not match the aesthetic of their exhibit. Some zoos object to the use of artificial EEDs in naturalistic exhibits, but there has been little research into whether the appearance of these temporary elements influe...
Conference Paper
Behavioral assessment is an essential element of captive chimpanzee care. A survey was designed to collect a variety of behavioral measures on captive chimpanzees including questions about early rearing, current social group, features of enclosures, and the presence of species-typical and abnormal behaviors. The survey can be completed based on qua...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Annually, over 180 million people visit zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), giving them the chance to see a variety of primate species and to learn about their behavior and ecology. In the past decade, some zoos have also become increasingly involved in conducting high-quality cognitive research that not only contributes...
Conference Paper
Collecting behavioral data is an essential element of monitoring the welfare of captive chimpanzees no matter where they live, and any comparisons between the varying sites in which chimpanzees live should be based on objectively-collected data. Information collected as a part of standard monitoring programs in chimpanzee facilities was collated th...
Article
Abnormal behaviors in captive animals are generally defined as behaviors that are atypical for the species and are often considered to be indicators of poor welfare. Although some abnormal behaviors have been empirically linked to conditions related to elevated stress and compromised welfare in primates, others have little or no evidence on which t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Annually, over 180 million people visit zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), giving them the chance to see a variety of primate species and to learn about their behavior and ecology. In the past decade, some zoos have also become increasingly involved in conducting high-quality cognitive research that not only contributes...
Presentation
Full-text available
Coprophagy (ingestion of feces) is typically classified as an abnormal behavior for captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) primarily because, although observed among wild chimpanzees, it is performed at higher frequencies by the captive population. Categorizing all abnormal behaviors together, however, ignores potential variation, limiting our abili...

Projects

Project (1)
Project
We aim to characterize the prevalence of abnormal behaviors in chimpanzees living in zoos, sanctuaries, and laboratory settings and to utilize information on their rearing and origins to better understand the expression of these behaviors.