I came across this in relation to pet rats:

"The light and noise will most certainly not bother the rat because rats are non-associative animals and they will not mind the noise and light of the television."

Now, as far as I know "non-associative" means something that does not associate one thing with another. Rats, however, are very intelligent by nature, which by definition means they should be pretty good at making associations. It seems that here the phrase is used to describe their perception rather than their intelligence but I've never seen it used like this and I'm not quite sure what is meant by it (neither could I find anything in the dictionary). Could someone please clarify.

  • It's really wrong to qualify rats as non-associative animals since they have both associative and non-associative learning and aspects of their character and being. Some things like fear to something is non-associative in them whereas risk-taking, as suggested, for instance, is more commonly associative but differs in female and male rats. Mostly when speaking about animals, the term "associative/non-associative animals" describes their major learning and perception, thus their being. – SovereignSun Sep 18 '19 at 10:41
  • I would like somebody to "find me somebody to love", kiddin', explain this difference better than I did. – SovereignSun Sep 18 '19 at 10:42

The term 'non-associative' has a specialised meaning in the academic field of animal learning, which may not match your existing notion of 'associative'. There are plenty of sources on line with explanations.

Theorists characterize animal learning into two categories: associative learning and nonassociative learning. Associative learning, including classical conditioning (Pavlovian conditioning) and operant conditioning, refers to learning that involves establishing associations between stimuli (sensory experiences) and/or stimuli and responses. Nonassociative learning, on the other hand, does not require associations to be established: Animals learn to modulate their responses when single stimuli are presented alone or repeatedly.

Nonassociative Learning in Invertebrates

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