Social complexity and transitive inference in corvids

Alan B. Bond, Alan C. Kamil, Russell P. Balda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


The social complexity hypothesis asserts that animals living in large social groups should display enhanced cognitive abilities along predictable dimensions. To test this concept, we compared highly social pinyon jays, Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus, with relatively nonsocial western scrub-jays, Aphelocoma californica, on two complex cognitive tasks relevant to the ability to track and assess social relationships. Pinyon jays learned to track multiple dyadic relationships more rapidly and more accurately than scrub-jays and appeared to display a more robust and accurate mechanism of transitive inference. These results provide a clear demonstration of the association between social complexity and cognition in animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-487
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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