Psychology, Department of


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Published as: Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (June 2016), Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 915–921.
The final publication is available at Springer via


Published by Springer.


When choosing between a piece of cake now versus a slimmer waistline in the future, many of us have difficulty with self-control. Food-caching species, however, regularly hide food for later recovery, sometimes waiting months before retrieving their caches. It remains unclear whether these long-term choices generalize outside of the caching domain. We hypothesized that the ability to save for the future is a general tendency that cuts across different situations. To test this hypothesis, we measured and experimentally manipulated caching to evaluate its relationship with operant measures of self-control in pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus). We found no correlation between caching and self-control at the individual level, and experimentally increasing caching did not influence self-control. The self-control required for caching food, therefore, does not carry over to other foraging tasks, suggesting that it is domain specific in pinyon jays.