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The sequential choice model (SCM) proposes that latencies to accept options presented alone can be used to predict preferences between these options when they are presented simultaneously. SCM has been proposed and tested in experiments where only two alternatives were present. To further challenge the model, we trained and tested European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in an environment with a background of four alternatives differing in delay to reinforcement. Unexpected binary choices between the six possible pairs of alternatives were used to assess preference. The model's predictions of the strength of preference roughly corresponded to the bird's choices for each of the six choice situations. More importantly, a trial-by-trial test of the model correctly predicted 84% of all individual choice trials.

Original publication




Journal article


Behav Processes

Publication Date





435 - 439


Animals, Choice Behavior, Environment, Models, Psychological, Reaction Time, Starlings, Time Factors