We have always thought that the capacity to think logically is a superior complex behavior reserved only for humans and that even animals with a complex nervous system are not capable of it. Well, it seems that we were wrong, as a new study proves.
A team of researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that wasps are capable of using logical reasoning. This result was concluded after conducting an experiment on a number of 40 paper wasps (23 specimens of Polistes dominula and 17 specimens of Polistes metricus). The goal was to see if the insects could learn transitive inference, which is the capacity to associate two different pieces of information to reach a conclusion.
Each wasp was placed into a container, and each container had a colored label at each end, from A to E. The side of the recipient that corresponded to the letter placed higher in the alphabet was electrically shocked. The wasps learned pairs of letter sequences, like A-B, B-C, C-D, and D-E, eventually moving on to pairs like B-D or A-E. After many trials, the researchers were able to train the wasps to use logic to determine the correct alphabetical order of the letter to avoid getting shocked.
Wasps are capable of logical thinking, new research proved
Out of the 40 wasps, 65% of them were able to choose correctly. The scientists believe this trait that wasps possess is due to their social structures. They are used to using transitive inference to determine hierarchy ranks among their populations.
Sean O’Donnell of Drexel University expressed his opinion on the matter: “Insects frequently learn relatively quickly, but reach only modest – albeit highly significant and repeatable – levels of performance. The Polistes transitive inference learning performance patterns are very much in line with this common pattern.”
Even though wasps seem to possess logical reasoning, the thinking process behind it is not the same as it is for humans. Our transitive inferences are based on far more complex processes.