Consumer and motor innovation in the common myna: The role of motivation and emotional responses

Daniel Sol, Andrea S. Griffin, Ignasi Bartomeus

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)


    Behavioural innovation is believed to be an important way in which animals devise solutions to new problems, yet the factors underpinning individual differences in innovation remain unclear. Here, we asked how motivational states and emotional responses to novelty shape the innovation process with a series of experiments in common mynas, Sturnus tristis. To this aim, we measured experimentally the willingness of adult individuals to eat a new food (consumer innovation) and to develop a new foraging technique (motor innovation), as well as their degree of neophobia, exploration, shyness, motivation and activity levels. Common mynas showed some propensity for consumer and motor innovations, with 55% and 22% of individuals solving the respective tasks. Moreover, individuals that solved the task significantly decreased their latency to solve it subsequently, indicating that learning had occurred. Differences in problem-solving performance were not related to sex, and individuals that solved the consumer task did not solve the motor innovation task faster. The likelihood of solving the motor task increased with propensity of the individual to explore the test apparatus, suggesting that the task was solved by trial and error. Exploration increased with the motivation to feed and decreased with the degree of neophobia. Thus, while differences in innovation propensity between individuals may result from cognitive differences, our results highlight that they may also reflect particular motivational states or emotional responses of individuals to novel situations. © 2011.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-188
    JournalAnimal Behaviour
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


    • Behavioural flexibility
    • Common myna
    • Foraging behaviour
    • Invasion paradox
    • Motivation
    • Sturnus tristis
    • Temperament


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