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Publication type: Journal Article
Document type: Full Paper

Year: 2016

Author(s): Brucks, D; Essler, JL; Marshall-Pescini, S; Range, F

Title: Inequity Aversion Negatively Affects Tolerance and Contact-Seeking Behaviours towards Partner and Experimenter.

Source: PLoS One. 2016; 11(4):e0153799



Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Brucks Désirée
Essler Jennifer
Marshall Sarah
Range Friederike

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition


Project(s): Proximate Mechanisms of Canine Cooperation: Prosocial attitudes and inequity aversion

Understanding the proximate mechanisms of canine cooperation


Abstract:
Inequity aversion has been proposed to act as a limiting factor for cooperation, thus preventing subjects from disadvantageous cooperative interactions. While a recent study revealed that also dogs show some sensitivity to inequity, the underlying mechanisms of this behaviour are still unclear. The aim of the current study was threefold: 1) to replicate the study by Range et al. (2009, PNAS, 106, 340-345); 2) to investigate the emotional mechanisms involved in the inequity response by measuring the heart rate and 3) to explore the link between inequity aversion and cooperation in terms of behaviours shown towards the partner dog and towards the experimenter who caused the inequity. Dog tested in dyads were alternately asked to give their paw and were either equally or unequally rewarded by the experimenter. After each social test condition, we conducted food tolerance tests and free interaction tests in which the subjects" social behaviour towards the partner and the experimenter were observed. As in the previous study, subjects refused to continue giving their paw when only the partner was rewarded, but not when both dogs were rewarded with rewards of different quality. Although subjects did not react to this quality inequity during the test, we did find reduced durations of food sharing in the subsequent tolerance test, indicating that dogs perceived the inequity but were not able to react to it in the test context. Moreover, subjects avoided their partner and the experimenter more during the free interaction time following unequal compared to equal treatment. Despite the clear behavioural reactions to inequity, we could not detect any changes in heart rate. Results suggest that inequity aversion might in fact be mediated by simple emotional mechanisms: sharing a negative experience, like inequity, might reduce future cooperation by decreasing the likelihood of proximity being maintained between partners.


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