Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2018

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Alan Hajnal

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Heather Hill

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Studies and Research


Causal reasoning is marked by the ability to mentally reconstruct the missing part of a sequence in order to reproduce an outcome. While research on causal reasoning has been done with children, the results of the studies have been inconsistent. A standardized paradigm for comparative causal reasoning studies does not exist. Nissani (2006) investigated causal reasoning in a tool-use task with elephants and concluded that elephants were not capable of causal reasoning. The current study, a modified replication, yielded results that were not congruent with Nissani’s (2006) manuscript. Additionally, it was very unlikely that the Nissani (2006) study truly looked at causal reasoning or tool-use, and instead assessed a response acquired through associative learning. Based on the results of the current study, it appears that elephants are capable of a level of causal reasoning, although more research is necessary.