Rats play tit-for-tat instead of integrating social experience over multiple interactions
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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.
Schweinfurth , M K & Taborsky , M 2020 , ' Rats play tit-for-tat instead of integrating social experience over multiple interactions ' , Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , vol. 287 , no. 1918 , 20192423 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.2423
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the author created accepted manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.2423
DescriptionFunding was provided by SNF-grant 31003A_156152 to M.T. and P2BEP3 175269 to M.K.S.
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