Advanced

An ‘unkindness’ of ravens? Measuring prosocial preferences in Corvus corax

Lambert, Megan L. LU ; Massen, Jorg J M; Seed, Amanda M; Bugnyar, Thomas and Slocombe, Katie E (2017) In Animal Behaviour 123. p.383-393
Abstract

In recent years, there has been considerable research effort to determine whether other species exhibit prosocial motivations parallel to those of humans; however, these studies have focused primarily on primates, and with mixed results. We presented captive ravens with a modified prosocial choice task which aimed to address several criticisms of previous methods by including a stringent pretraining regime and a set-up that disentangles motivation to provision a conspecific from motivation to feed next to one. In this task six subjects received no rewards for themselves but could choose to deliver food rewards to either a conspecific or an empty, inaccessible compartment. Subjects did not demonstrate any prosocial tendencies (i.e. they... (More)

In recent years, there has been considerable research effort to determine whether other species exhibit prosocial motivations parallel to those of humans; however, these studies have focused primarily on primates, and with mixed results. We presented captive ravens with a modified prosocial choice task which aimed to address several criticisms of previous methods by including a stringent pretraining regime and a set-up that disentangles motivation to provision a conspecific from motivation to feed next to one. In this task six subjects received no rewards for themselves but could choose to deliver food rewards to either a conspecific or an empty, inaccessible compartment. Subjects did not demonstrate any prosocial tendencies (i.e. they did not preferentially choose to reward a conspecific over the empty compartment), and instead often ceased pulling on test trials when they received nothing for themselves (up to 70% of 80 trials with a partner present, up to 83% of 40 trials in a nonsocial control condition). The relationship between the subject and the partner had no influence on the subject's choices; however, subjects were more likely to pull immediately after performing socio-agonistic displays. Our results contribute to a growing body of evidence that despite their sophisticated social cognitive abilities and range of cooperative behaviours exhibited in the wild, unpaired (or unbonded) ravens do not seem to act to benefit conspecifics in the absence of immediate self-gain.

(Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
altruism, avian cognition, corvid, Corvus corax, prosociality, raven
in
Animal Behaviour
volume
123
pages
383 - 393
publisher
Elsevier Ltd
external identifiers
  • scopus:85006474640
  • wos:000391840900041
ISSN
0003-3472
DOI
10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.11.018
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
1b33c586-2c9e-4b7a-b574-d7ff3b01d9de
date added to LUP
2017-09-06 15:02:57
date last changed
2018-04-29 04:42:07
@article{1b33c586-2c9e-4b7a-b574-d7ff3b01d9de,
  abstract     = {<p>In recent years, there has been considerable research effort to determine whether other species exhibit prosocial motivations parallel to those of humans; however, these studies have focused primarily on primates, and with mixed results. We presented captive ravens with a modified prosocial choice task which aimed to address several criticisms of previous methods by including a stringent pretraining regime and a set-up that disentangles motivation to provision a conspecific from motivation to feed next to one. In this task six subjects received no rewards for themselves but could choose to deliver food rewards to either a conspecific or an empty, inaccessible compartment. Subjects did not demonstrate any prosocial tendencies (i.e. they did not preferentially choose to reward a conspecific over the empty compartment), and instead often ceased pulling on test trials when they received nothing for themselves (up to 70% of 80 trials with a partner present, up to 83% of 40 trials in a nonsocial control condition). The relationship between the subject and the partner had no influence on the subject's choices; however, subjects were more likely to pull immediately after performing socio-agonistic displays. Our results contribute to a growing body of evidence that despite their sophisticated social cognitive abilities and range of cooperative behaviours exhibited in the wild, unpaired (or unbonded) ravens do not seem to act to benefit conspecifics in the absence of immediate self-gain.</p>},
  author       = {Lambert, Megan L. and Massen, Jorg J M and Seed, Amanda M and Bugnyar, Thomas and Slocombe, Katie E},
  issn         = {0003-3472},
  keyword      = {altruism,avian cognition,corvid,Corvus corax,prosociality,raven},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {01},
  pages        = {383--393},
  publisher    = {Elsevier Ltd},
  series       = {Animal Behaviour},
  title        = {An ‘unkindness’ of ravens? Measuring prosocial preferences in Corvus corax},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.11.018},
  volume       = {123},
  year         = {2017},
}