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Intelligent Hans – Wikipedia

Intelligent Hans – Wikipedia

2023-03-26 12:28:45

Early Twentieth-century horse claimed to have been capable of do arithmetic

Intelligent Hans performing in 1904

Intelligent Hans (German: der Kluge Hans; c. 1895 – c. 1916) was a horse that was claimed to have carried out arithmetic and different mental duties. After a proper investigation in 1907, psychologist Oskar Pfungst demonstrated that the horse was not truly performing these psychological duties, however was watching the reactions of his coach. He found this artifact within the research methodology, whereby the horse was responding on to involuntary cues within the body language of the human coach, who was completely unaware that he was offering such cues.[1] In honour of Pfungst’s research, the anomalous artifact has since been known as the Intelligent Hans impact and has continued to be vital data within the observer-expectancy effect and later research in animal cognition.
Pfungst was an assistant to German thinker and psychologist Carl Stumpf, who integrated the expertise with Hans into his additional work on animal psychology and his concepts on phenomenology.[2]


Wilhelm von Osten and Intelligent Hans

Throughout the early twentieth century, the general public was particularly serious about animal intelligence owing largely to Charles Darwin‘s latest publications. The case of Intelligent Hans was taken to point out a complicated stage of number sense in an animal.

Hans was a horse owned by Wilhelm von Osten, who was a gymnasium arithmetic trainer, an novice horse coach, phrenologist, and thought of a mystic.[1] Hans was stated to have been taught so as to add, subtract, multiply, divide, work with fractions, inform time, preserve observe of the calendar, differentiate between musical tones, and skim, spell, and perceive German. Von Osten would ask Hans, “If the eighth day of the month comes on a Tuesday, what’s the date of the next Friday?” Hans would reply by tapping his hoof eleven instances. Questions may very well be requested each orally, and in written type. Von Osten exhibited Hans all through Germany, and by no means charged admission. Hans’s talents have been reported in The New York Times in 1904.[3]

After von Osten died in 1909, Hans was acquired by a number of house owners. After 1916, there isn’t a report of him and his destiny is unknown.[citation needed]


The nice public curiosity in Intelligent Hans led the German board of training to nominate a fee to research von Osten’s scientific claims. Philosopher and psychologist Carl Stumpf shaped a panel of 13 individuals, often called the Hans Fee. This fee consisted of a veterinarian, a circus supervisor, a cavalry officer, quite a few schoolteachers, and the director of the Berlin zoological gardens. This fee concluded in September 1904 that no methods have been concerned in Hans’s efficiency.[2]

The fee handed off the analysis to Oskar Pfungst, who examined the premise for these claimed talents by:

  1. Isolating horse and questioner from spectators, so no cues might come from them
  2. Utilizing questioners apart from the horse’s grasp
  3. By way of blinders, various whether or not the horse might see the questioner
  4. Various whether or not the questioner knew the reply to the query prematurely.

Utilizing a considerable variety of trials, Pfungst discovered that the horse might get the right reply even when von Osten himself didn’t ask the questions, ruling out the potential for fraud. Nevertheless, the horse gave the precise reply solely when the questioner knew what the reply was and the horse might see the questioner. He noticed that when von Osten knew the solutions to the questions, Hans received 89 p.c of the solutions appropriate, however when von Osten didn’t know the solutions to the questions, Hans answered solely six p.c of the questions accurately.[citation needed]

Pfungst was conscious of the flexibility of circus trainers to coach horses to answer small gestures, and was conscious of quite a few circumstances of canine, like that of English astrophysicist Sir William Huggins, who have been capable of level to an object their grasp was taking a look at or who have been capable of ‘bark’ the reply to questions like sq. roots whereas gazing their grasp’s face; and so after refuting his preliminary suspicion of a fraud involving whispering or the like, started to contemplate unintended communication with Hans.[4] Pfungst then examined the behaviour of the questioner intimately, and confirmed that because the horse’s faucets approached the precise reply, the questioner’s posture and facial features modified in ways in which have been in step with a rise in pressure, which was launched when the horse made the ultimate, appropriate faucet. This offered a cue that the horse might use to inform it to cease tapping. The social communication techniques of horses could depend upon the detection of small postural adjustments, and this might clarify why Hans so simply picked up on the cues given by von Osten, even when these cues have been unconscious.

Pfungst carried out laboratory exams with human topics, through which he performed the a part of the horse. Pfungst requested topics to face on his proper and suppose “with a excessive diploma of focus” a couple of explicit quantity, or a easy mathematical downside. Pfungst would then faucet out the reply along with his proper hand. He steadily noticed “a sudden slight upward jerk of the top” when reaching the ultimate faucet, and famous that this corresponded to the topic resuming the place they’d adopted earlier than pondering of the query.[5]

Even after this official debunking, von Osten, who was by no means persuaded by Pfungst’s findings, continued to point out Hans round Germany, attracting giant and enthusiastic crowds.[3]

The Intelligent Hans impact[edit]

After Pfungst had grow to be adept at giving Hans performances himself, and was absolutely conscious of the delicate cues which made them potential, he found that he would produce these cues involuntarily no matter whether or not he wished to exhibit or suppress them.[citation needed] Recognition of this phenomenon has had a big impact on experimental design and methodology for all experiments in any way involving sentient topics, together with people.

See Also

The danger of Intelligent Hans results is one cause why comparative psychologists usually take a look at animals in remoted equipment, with out interplay with them. Nevertheless this creates issues of its personal, as a result of lots of the most attention-grabbing phenomena in animal cognition are solely more likely to be demonstrated in a social context, and as a way to practice and exhibit them, it’s crucial to construct up a social relationship between coach and animal. This standpoint has been strongly argued by Irene Pepperberg in relation to her research of parrots (Alex), and by Allen and Beatrix Gardner of their research of the chimpanzee Washoe. If the outcomes of such research are to achieve common acceptance, it’s crucial to search out a way of testing the animals’ achievements which eliminates the danger of Intelligent Hans results. Nevertheless, merely eradicating the coach from the scene might not be an applicable technique, as a result of the place the social relationship between coach and topic is robust, the removing of the coach could produce emotional responses stopping the topic from performing. It’s subsequently crucial to plan procedures the place none of these current is aware of what the animal’s doubtless response could also be.

The Intelligent Hans impact has additionally been noticed in drug-sniffing dogs. A research at University of California, Davis revealed that cues will be telegraphed by the handler to the canine, leading to false positives.[6]

A 2004 research of Rico, a border collie reported by his house owners as having a vocabulary of over 200 phrases, averted the Intelligent Hans impact by having the proprietor ask the canine to fetch gadgets from an adjoining room, in order that the proprietor couldn’t present actual time suggestions whereas the canine was deciding on an object.[citation needed]

A research carried out in 2012 examined the socio-communicative capacity of canine with people, taking a look at how a lot of an affect an proprietor, if current, would have on their canine throughout an object-choice pointing activity, together with taking a look at whether or not a Intelligent Hans impact was current. The research concluded that when the experimenter offered a pointing gesture whatever the proprietor’s data, and that when no pointing cue was given to the canine, it solely carried out at likelihood stage. This research proved that, for this pointing activity, there was no Intelligent Hans impact affecting the canine’ efficiency, so long as the house owners didn’t actively affect them.[7]

Equally, a research carried out in 2013 additionally examined whether or not a Intelligent Hans impact was current in a two-way object alternative take a look at and included an experimental group through which the house owners actively tried to affect their canine’s resolution. The outcomes confirmed that the experimenter had the strongest impact on the canine’s alternative on this activity, whatever the proprietor’s data or actions. This offers proof that the Intelligent Hans impact shouldn’t be at all times current when people and canine work together.[8]

Pfungst’s last experiment confirmed that Intelligent Hans results can happen in experiments with people in addition to with animals.[5] Because of this, care is commonly taken in fields equivalent to perception, cognitive psychology, and social psychology to make experiments double-blind, which means that neither the experimenter nor the topic is aware of what situation the topic is in, and thus what their responses are predicted to be. One other means through which Intelligent Hans results are averted is by changing the experimenter with a pc, which may ship standardized directions and report responses with out giving clues.

See additionally[edit]


  1. ^ “Clever Hans phenomenon”. skepdic. Retrieved 2008-12-11.
  2. ^ Prinz, W. (2006). “Messung kontra Augenschein: Oskar Pfungst untersucht den Klugen Hans”. Psychologische Rundschau. 57 (22): 106–111. doi:10.1026/0033-3042.57.2.106. hdl:11858/00-001M-0000-0010-C632-B.
  3. ^ “Berlin’s Wonderful Horse; He Can Do Almost Everything but Talk – How He Was Taught” (PDF). The New York Instances. 1904-09-04. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
  4. ^ pg177-185, Intelligent Hans: (The Horse Of Mr. Von Osten), Pfungst 1911
  5. ^ a b “The Project Gutenberg eBook of Clever Hans (The Horse of Mr. von Osten), by Oskar Pfungst”. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  6. ^ “Clever Hounds” (URL). The Economist. 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  7. ^ Schmidjell, T., Vary, F., Huber, L., & Virányi, Z. (2012). “Do house owners have a Intelligent Hans impact on canine? Outcomes of a pointing research”. Frontiers in Psychology, 3. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00558
  8. ^ Pongrácz, P., Miklósi, Á., Hegedüs, D., & Bálint, A. (2013). “House owners fail to affect the alternatives of canine in A Two-choice, Visible pointing activity”. Behaviour, 150(3–4), 427–443. doi:10.1163/1568539x-00003060


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