Research performed at the University of Bern indicates that animals beyond Homo sapiens consider the value of previously received help when deciding whether to help a social partner.
Reciprocal exchange of services and commodities among conspecifics is common, and has been observed for instance in primates, vampire bats and rats. For humans, a predominant factor influencing the motivation to reciprocate help is the individual’s perceived benefit resulting from the value of received help.
Hitherto, it was unclear whether outside of humans the value of a received reward may affect the decision to cooperate reciprocally, independently of other parameters such as the partner’s identity or it’s furnished effort.
Using Norway rats, Vassilissa Dolivo and Michael Taborsky, two researchers at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution from the University of Bern, have found that animals other than humans also reciprocate help according to the quality of help they received.
The study appeared in the journal «Biology Letters». According to Vassilissa Dolivo, Norway rats were chosen because of their ability to perform experimental tasks under laboratory conditions, as of their high degree of sociality in the wild and their known ability to cooperate on the basis of the decision rule of direct reciprocity – that is «helping someone who has helped you before».
Banana providers preferred
Twenty female wild-type Norway rats were tested in a variant of the prisoner’s dilemma paradigm. Each test rat received food items differing in value and attractiveness from two different social partners that provided either a preferred, «high quality» reward – pieces of banana – or a less relished, «low quality» reward – pieces of carrot. The quality of the offered food was the only variable parameter for test rats to distinguish between different cooperators.
Subsequently, the test rats could decide to provide their previous banana or carrot providers with oat flakes. «The test rats showed a clear preference to pay back help to the partner that had provided them with the preferred food», says Michael Taborsky. «They helped previous banana providers much quicker than previous carrot providers.»
According to the authors, these results demonstrate that animals can consider the value of previously received help when deciding whether to help a social partner. This may have important implications for our understanding of reciprocal cooperation in nature, for which, as Vassilissa Dolivo points out, «evidence is increasing throughout vertebrates, from fishes to primates».
Nathalie Matter | Universität Bern
Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)
CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy