Sarah A Jelbert

Sarah A Jelbert
University of Bristol | UB · School of Experimental Psychology

PhD

About

59
Publications
9,919
Reads
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557
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2019 - present
University of Bristol
Position
  • Lecturer
March 2016 - July 2018
University of Cambridge
Position
  • Research Associate
Education
September 2012 - March 2016
University of Auckland
Field of study
  • Animal Cognition
September 2010 - September 2011
University of St Andrews
Field of study
  • Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology
September 2006 - September 2009
University of Oxford
Field of study
  • Experimental Psychology

Publications

Publications (59)
Article
Full-text available
Cumulative cultural evolution occurs when social traditions accumulate improvements over time. In humans cumulative cultural evolution is thought to depend on a unique suite of cognitive abilities, including teaching, language and imitation. Tool-making New Caledonian crows show some hallmarks of cumulative culture; but this claim is contentious, i...
Article
Full-text available
Despite prolonged interest in comparing brain size and behavioral proxies of "intelligence" across taxa, the adaptive and cognitive significance of brain size variation remains elusive. Central to this problem is the continued focus on hominid cognition as a benchmark and the assumption that behavioral complexity has a simple relationship with brai...
Article
Full-text available
Large-scale, comparative cognition studies are set to revolutionize the way we investigate and understand the evolution of intelligence. However, the conclusions reached by such work have a key limitation: the cognitive tests themselves. If factors other than cognition can systematically affect the performance of a subset of animals on these tests,...
Article
Full-text available
Psychoeducational courses focused on positive psychology interventions have been shown to benefit student well-being. However, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying social restrictions, many educators have had to deliver their courses online. Given that online teaching presents a very different university experience for students...
Preprint
Psychoeducational courses focused on positive psychology interventions have been shown to benefit student well-being. However, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying social restrictions, many educators have had to deliver their courses online. Given that online teaching presents a very different university experience for students...
Article
Full-text available
Although several nonhuman animals have the ability to recognize and match templates in computerized tasks, we know little about their ability to recall and then physically manufacture specific features of mental templates. Across three experiments, Goffin cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana), a species that can use tools in captivity, were exposed to two...
Article
Full-text available
We tested whether a psychoeducational course improved well-being in three cohorts. Study 1 found significantly higher mental well-being in first year undergraduates who took the course compared to a waiting-list control. Study 2 revealed that students taking the course when COVID-19 restrictions began did not experience increases in mental well-bei...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Concern about the mental health and wellbeing of students in university education continues to mount. Psychoeducation has the potential to support students experiencing varying levels of distress and help meet the demand for support, however there is a need to understand how these programmes are used and experienced. Online diaries are a...
Article
Full-text available
Background Psychoeducation has the potential to support students experiencing distress and help meet the demand for support; however, there is a need to understand how these programs are experienced. Web-based diaries are a useful activity for psychoeducation because of their therapeutic benefits, ability to capture naturalistic data relevant to we...
Article
New Caledonian (NC) crow populations have developed complex tools that show suggestive evidence of cumulative change. These tool designs, therefore, appear to be the product of cumulative technological culture (CTC). We suggest that tool-using NC crows offer highly useful data for current debates over the necessary and sufficient conditions for the...
Article
Full-text available
Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius) do not habitually use tools, yet they can be trained to solve object-dropping tasks, i.e., to insert a tool into an apparatus to release a food reward. Previous research suggests that these jays can learn a preference toward functional tools-objects allowing them to obtain a food reward placed inside an apparatus...
Article
Full-text available
In adult humans, decisions involving the choice and use of tools for future events typically require episodic foresight. Previous studies suggest some non-human species are capable of future planning; however, these experiments often cannot fully exclude alternative learning explanations. Here, we used a novel tool-use paradigm aiming to address th...
Article
Full-text available
The ability to make profitable decisions in natural foraging contexts may be influenced by an additional requirement of tool-use, due to increased levels of relational complexity and additional work-effort imposed by tool-use, compared with simply choosing between an immediate and delayed food item. We examined the flexibility for making the most p...
Preprint
Full-text available
Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius) do not habitually use tools, yet they can be trained to solve object-dropping tasks, i.e. to insert a tool into an apparatus to release a food reward. Previous research suggests the these jays can learn a preference toward functional tools - objects allowing to obtain a food reward placed inside an apparatus - ac...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ability to make profitable decisions in natural foraging contexts may be influenced by an additional requirement of tool-use, due to increased levels of relational complexity and additional work-effort imposed by tool-use, compared with simply choosing between an immediate and delayed food item. We examined the flexibility for making the most p...
Article
Full-text available
Self‐control is critical for both humans and nonhuman animals because it underlies complex cognitive abilities, such as decision‐making and future planning, enabling goal‐directed behavior. For instance, it is positively associated with social competence and life success measures in humans. We present the first review of delay of gratification as a...
Article
Full-text available
A correction to this article has been published and is linked from the HTML and PDF versions of this paper. The error has been fixed in the paper.
Article
Full-text available
We gave 40 participants a task in which they needed to select target objects from an array according to the instructions of either an informed director (who shared their perspective of the array) or an ignorant director (whose view of the array was restricted owing to barriers). Importantly, sometimes only one of the directors was visible, and on s...
Article
Full-text available
Humans use a variety of cues to infer an object's weight, including how easily objects can be moved. For example, if we observe an object being blown down the street by the wind, we can infer that it is light. Here, we tested whether New Caledonian crows make this type of inference. After training that only one type of object (either light or heavy...
Article
Full-text available
We gave 40 participants a task in which they needed to select target objects from an array according to the instructions of either an informed director (who shared their perspective of the array) or an ignorant director (whose view of the array was restricted due to barriers). Importantly, sometimes only one of the directors was visible, and on som...
Article
Tool use behaviours tend to be split into cases that appear to entail complex cognitive abilities and that are highly reliant on learning to be acquired (e.g. flexible tool use), and into others that seem to be more genetically canalized (e.g. stereotyped tool use). However recent evidences suggest that the differences between these forms of tool u...
Article
Full-text available
Uncovering the neural correlates and evolutionary drivers of behavioral and cognitive traits has been held back by traditional perspectives on which correlations to look for-in particular, anthropocentric conceptions of cognition and coarse-grained brain measurements. We welcome our colleagues' comments on our overview of the field and their sugges...
Article
Much of the debate over whether food-caching corvids possess an episodic memory system — comparable to that of humans — has focussed on these birds’ memories for what was cached, where and when. Here, we highlight that corvids also exhibit a number of other behaviours that could potentially be considered non-linguistic hallmarks of an episodic-memo...
Article
Full-text available
Aesop’s Fable tasks—in which subjects drop objects into a water-filled tube to raise the water level and obtain out-of-reach floating rewards —have been used to test for causal understanding of water displacement in both young children and non-human animals. However, a number of alternative explanations for success on these tasks have yet to be rul...
Article
Full-text available
Aesop’s Fable tasks—in which subjects drop objects into a water-filled tube to raise the water level and obtain out-of-reach floating rewards —have been used to test for causal understanding of water displacement in both young children and non-human animals. However, a number of alternative explanations for success on these tasks have yet to be rul...
Data
Correct choices (%) in each condition per year group P-values (‘p’) are calculated from exact two-tailed binomial tests. Significant p-values are highlighted in bold. NS, not significant with a Bonferroni correction.
Data
Video of example trials Supplementary movie of the example trials
Data
Correct choices (%) in each condition across all subjects (n = 55). P-values (‘p’) are calculated from exact two-tailed binomial tests. Significant p-values are highlighted in bold.
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite prolonged interest in comparing brain size and behavioral proxies of ‘intelligence’ across taxa, the adaptive and cognitive significance of brain size variation remains elusive. Central to this problem is the continued focus on hominid cognition as a benchmark, and the assumption that behavioral complexity has a simple relationship with bra...
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
It is highly difficult to pinpoint what is going through an animal’s mind when it appears to solve a problem by ‘insight’. Here, we searched for an information processing error during the emergence of seemingly insightful stone dropping in New Caledonian crows. We presented these birds with the platform apparatus, where a heavy object needs to be d...
Data
Data set for the birds’ preferences and interactions with the heavy and light blocks. (XLSX)
Data
Example of the weight inattention error. Video clip showing D4R showing the weight inattention error. The subject initially drops a light block into the apparatus (which is too light to collapse the platform) before dropping in a heavy block and causing the platform to collapse. (3GP)
Article
Full-text available
The ability to reason about causality underlies key aspects of human cognition, but the extent to which non-humans understand causality is still largely unknown. The Aesop’s Fable paradigm, where objects are inserted into water-filled tubes to obtain out-of-reach rewards, has been used to test casual reasoning in birds and children. However, succes...
Data
Children Experiment 1A results per age group and test group. Group 1: initial preference for sinking objects and Group 2: trained preference for floating object. (PDF)
Data
Crow trial-by-trial performance. (XLSX)
Data
Children Experiment 1B results per age group and test group. Group 1: initial preference for hollow objects and Group 2: no post-test object preference. (PDF)
Data
Child selection trial-by-trial performance. (XLSX)
Data
Sand vs. water task crow results: number of object insertions into correct tube (i.e. water-filled tube). One bird (‘Nero’) required a second block of 10 trials as did not reach significance in block 1. Significant p-values highlighted in bold. (PDF)
Article
Full-text available
The ability to reason about causality underlies key aspects of human cognition, but the extent to which non-humans understand causality is still largely unknown. The Aesop's Fable paradigm, where objects are inserted into water-filled tubes to obtain out-of-reach rewards, has been used to test casual reasoning in birds and children. However, succes...
Thesis
Full-text available
New Caledonian crows are an exceptional species of bird, known to manufacture and use complex tools in the wild. In captivity, they appear to possess a causal understanding of many elements of tool use and to demonstrate a number of advanced cognitive abilities. As a member of the large-brained corvid family, these birds have been collectively refe...
Data
The ability to reason about causality underlies key aspects of human cognition, but the extent to which non-humans understand causality is still largely unknown. The Aesop’s Fable paradigm, where objects are inserted into water-filled tubes to obtain out-of-reach rewards, has been used to test casual reasoning in birds and children. However, succes...
Article
Full-text available
The Aesop’s Fable paradigm – in which subjects drop stones into tubes of water to obtain floating out-of-reach rewards – has been used to assess causal understanding in rooks, crows, jays and human children. To date, the performance of corvids suggests that they can recognize the functional properties of a variety of objects including size, weight...
Article
Full-text available
There is growing comparative evidence that the cognitive bases of cooperation are not unique to humans. However, the selective pressures that lead to the evolution of these mechanisms remain unclear. Here we show that while tool-making New Caledonian crows can produce collaborative behavior, they do not understand the causality of cooperation nor s...
Article
Whether animals can reason or merely learn associatively is a long-standing debate. Researchers have approached this question by investigating whether dogs, birds, and primates can reason by exclusion (choosing by logically excluding all other alternatives). However, these studies have not resolved whether animals are capable of inferring which opt...
Article
Full-text available
While humans are able to understand much about causality, it is unclear to what extent non-human animals can do the same. The Aesop's Fable paradigm requires an animal to drop stones into a water-filled tube to bring a floating food reward within reach. Rook, Eurasian jay, and New Caledonian crow performances are similar to those of children under...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding causal regularities in the world is a key feature of human cognition. However, the extent to which non-human animals are capable of causal understanding is not well understood. Here, we used the Aesop's fable paradigm - in which subjects drop stones into water to raise the water level and obtain an out of reach reward - to assess New...
Article
Full-text available
Studies in the laboratory have shown that animals can combine multiple kinds of information to form integrated memories for rules and events. Less is known about how animals make use of these integrated memories in the wild. Here we tested whether wild, free-living, rufous hummingbirds, Selasphorus rufus, could learn to identify rewarded flowers in...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
The aim of this project is advance our current understanding of physical, prospective and social cognition in the Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius), a member of the corvids family. In Study 1, we explore whether these jays are capable of tool selectivity and if they can use sticks as tools. In Study 2, we investigate the cognitive underpinnings future oriented caching behaviour by testing two alternative hypotheses: the Future Planning Hypothesis and the Compensatory Caching Hypothesis. In Study 3, we explore i) whether Eurasian jays can limit the risk of cache loss by accounting simultaneously for cues about the desire and perspective of a conspecific pilferer, and; ii) the robustness and reliability of previously reported caching strategies based on either the visual perspective or the current desire of another agent.