Wow. Wow. I know it might be old news at this point, but look at this video.

Cats? Check. Phallic object? Check. Funny reaction? Check. This video has it all. Not only that, it’s also a great example of Information Processing Theory (IPT). Now I think IPT is more a human related theory, but these cats provide a really funny means to analyze how humans also utilize IPT.

“Why do cats do this?” you may ask. Well, this article gives us some insight into their reaction. It’s a classic case of Fight or Flight. As put it, “The ‘fight or flight’ response is usually associated with prey animals such as horses, but it as actually recognized in almost all animals.” they continue, “…when the cat turns around and is faced with an unexpected object, its ‘fight or flight’ response takes over before its analytical brain has a chance to process what the object is.”

Really, while it may be just a cucumber, it looks just close enough to a snake to trigger that response. Kind of like when you’re laying in bed and the chair in your room looks suspiciously like a person stalking you at night. Obviously it’s not a person, but it looks just close enough to fool our brains for a second.

What does that have to do with IPT?

Well, The cat is given an input, the cucumber, and has one of two reactions to it. They can either: A, run for their little furry lives, or, B, fight like hell. Technically there is a third option, and that is nothing, but we’re only analyzing the video and the article here. Some cats, or respondents, would be more likely to Fight, while others would be more likely to run away. While these videos only give us one shot of a cat reacting to these cucumbers, we can infer that if more trials were to happen, some cats would respond one way more than the other. The most interesting part is that the cat physically cannot control their reaction, so many biases like instruction bias do not apply. In the cat’s unconscious mind, it is a life or death scenario.

Let’s take a look at it step by step:

  1. Perceptual stage – the cat’s eyes, paws, and/or nose all sense the presence of a previously unknown stimulant.
  2. Cognitive stage – The brain processes that this is an unknown, snake-like object, and initiates response.
  3. Action stage – The cat’s eyes might dilate, and the muscles of the cat will lurch the cat up and out of the way, without the cat consciously acting.

As for signal detection, another part of IPT that puts emphasis on lack of stimulant versus stimulant, there isn’t too much to say here. Housecats rarely have to deal with cucumbers, and those few times that they do, it’s most likely their owner’s doing. A cat will usually not randomly jump and run with fear for nothing, unless you have a ghost problem. So maybe these cats aren’t a comprehensive example, but they’re a really funny way to get introduced to Information Processing Theory.

One response to “Kittycumber”

  1. President Obama Avatar

    Wow, this just might be the best thinking I’ve ever read. Keep it up. Proud of you.

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