Rats play tit-for-tat instead of integrating social experience over multiple interactions

Manon Karin Schweinfurth, Michael Taborsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Theoretical models of cooperation typically assume that agents use simple rules based on last encounters, such as “tit-for-tat”, to reciprocate help. In contrast, empiricists generally suppose that animals integrate multiple experiences over longer timespans. Here we compared these two alternative hypotheses by exposing Norway rats to partners that cooperated on three consecutive days but failed to cooperate on the fourth day, and to partners that did the exact opposite. In additional controls, focal rats experienced cooperating and defecting partners only once. In a bar-pulling setup, focal rats based their decision to provide partners with food on last encounters instead of overall cooperation levels. To check whether this might be due to a lack of memory capacity, we tested whether rats remember the outcome of encounters that had happened three days before. Cooperation was not diminished by the intermediate time interval. We conclude that rats reciprocate help mainly based on most recent encounters instead of integrating social experience over longer timespans.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20192423
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume287
Issue number1918
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Rattus norvegicus
  • Cooperation
  • Reciprocity
  • Tit-for-tat
  • Memory
  • Food sharing

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Rats play tit-for-tat instead of integrating social experience over multiple interactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this