Data_Sheet_2_Failure to Find Altruistic Food Sharing in Rats.ZIP (10.32 MB)

Data_Sheet_2_Failure to Find Altruistic Food Sharing in Rats.ZIP

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posted on 2021-06-22, 04:48 authored by Haoran Wan, Cyrus Kirkman, Greg Jensen, Timothy D. Hackenberg

Prior research has found that one rat will release a second rat from a restraint in the presence of food, thereby allowing that second rat access to food. Such behavior, clearly beneficial to the second rat and costly to the first, has been interpreted as altruistic. Because clear demonstrations of altruism in rats are rare, such findings deserve a careful look. The present study aimed to replicate this finding, but with more systematic methods to examine whether, and under what conditions, a rat might share food with its cagemate partner. Rats were given repeated choices between high-valued food (sucrose pellets) and 30-s social access to a familiar rat, with the (a) food size (number of food pellets per response), and (b) food motivation (extra-session access to food) varied across conditions. Rats responded consistently for both food and social interaction, but at different levels and with different sensitivity to the food-access manipulations. Food production and consumption was high when food motivation was also high (food restriction) but substantially lower when food motivation was low (unlimited food access). Social release occurred at moderate levels, unaffected by the food-based manipulations. When food was abundant and food motivation low, the rats chose food and social options about equally often, but sharing (food left unconsumed prior to social release) occurred at low levels across sessions and conditions. Even under conditions of low food motivation, sharing occurred on only 1% of the sharing opportunities. The results are therefore inconsistent with claims in the literature that rats are altruistically motivated to share food with other rats.