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Rats Cut Deals and Trade Different Favors With One Another

MARC BEKOFF: ‘Different forms of cooperation are common among many nonhuman animals… Observations of individuals of different species show that favors are paid and repaid, trading usually like with like, such as trading food for food or grooming for grooming among different individuals. However, there haven’t been any controlled experimental studies to learn more about how other animals reciprocally trade different commodities and services.

This hole in the database has now been filled and we now know that laboratory rats do indeed trade food and grooming among one another… Basically, Drs. Schweinfurth and Taborsky were interested in learning if rats trade different forms of help, namely allogrooming (grooming among members of the same species) and food. Rats typically share food and groom one another, but it wasn’t known if they’d trade off food for grooming and vice versa…

Basically, Drs. Schweinfurth and Taborsky were interested in learning if rats trade different forms of help, namely allogrooming (grooming among members of the same species) and food… Test rats traded allogrooming against food provisioning, and vice versa, thereby acting by the rules of direct reciprocity. This might indicate that reciprocal altruism among non-human animals is much more widespread than currently assumed”.’ SOURCE…


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