This textbook is available Logo
A History of Modern Psychology 11th Edition

A History of Modern Psychology (11th Edition)

Book Edition11th Edition
Author(s)Schultz, Schultz
Chapter 9, End of Chapter, Review Questions, Exercise 1
Page 209

Discuss the impact of the Clever Hans incident on animal psychology. What did Pfungst's experiments demonstrate?

Here is a tip:

Reinforcements in animals can also help in conditioning them, thereby leading to the modification of behavior even in animals.


Horse C was considered the most famous celebrity horse in the whole history of animal psychology.


Horse C could display cognitive abilities and could perform intellectual tasks. Horse C was called the smartest four-legged creature in the whole history of the world. The knowledge was Horse C was tested by many eminent historians and intellectuals. Horse C was said to have the ability as that of a 14-year-old child.


Horse C knew addition and subtraction. Horse C was also well aware of fractions and decimals and where to use them. The horse could read and also identify coins and play cards. Horse C also had a good memory and recognize different objects.


A graduate student conducted a well-controlled experiment on Horse C and inferred that the horse was well-conditioned by the owner, though unconsciously.


Horse C's behavior was learned and not a result of the horse thinking for oneself. The treats that the owner presented them reinforced the learned response, which was stopping the tapping of the hooves as soon as the horse received an unintentional cue from the owner. This phenomenon shows that Horse C did not possess a reservoir of knowledge but just the ability to learn through conditioning. 

Verified Answer

Horse C was a horse that displayed the ability to perform intellectual tasks such as solving mathematical problems, reading, and recognizing objects. The intelligence was initially credited to the owner who had spent years training the horse until a graduate student's experiment revealed the truth.


Owner O had unintentionally conditioned Horse C. When the owner would tap the hooves the right number of times in response to a question, the owner's head would automatically rise. Owner O demonstrated that even individuals who had never been near a horse made similar head gestures in reaction to the owner. 


Further, Horse C did not innately possess those abilities, rather the behavior was learned. The owner had reinforced the behavior during the time they trained the horse by presenting them with treats whenever the horse was correct.


Horse C's case is of vital importance in animal psychology as it showed how animals could learn behaviors through conditioning.

How would you rate this answer and explanation?
Did you like this example?
Subscribe for full access
Page 209