Self-Controlled Crows Ace the Marshmallow Test

Are four treats better than two? Not if you’re a crow picking a favorite snack.

Crows and ravens hold off on gobbling a tidbit when they can see a better one coming after a short wait. But they’ll only act with restraint if the future treat is something they like more than what they already have, not if it’s just more of the same.

The new results, published in the April 2014 issue of the journal Animal Behavior, suggest the birds aren’t just capable of controlling their impulses, they also choose when to give in to temptation. The experiments mimic the classic test where kids and adults are left alone with a marshmallow, and promised a better treat if they refrain from biting in. Like many children and adults, crows and ravens waited.

Read the rest at the Scientific American MIND guest blog.

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