Ravens (Corvus corax) are indifferent to the gains of conspecific recipients or human partners in experimental tasks

Felice Di Lascio (Korresp. Autor*in), Redouan Bshary, Thomas Bugnyar

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


Although cooperative behaviours are common in animals, the cognitive processes underpinning such behaviours are very likely to differ between species. In humans, other-regarding preferences have been proposed to sustain long-term cooperation between individuals. The extent to which such psychological capacities exist in other animals is still under investigation. Five hand-reared ravens were first tested in an experiment where they could provide food to a conspecific at no cost to themselves. We offered them two behavioural options that provided identical amounts of food to the actor and where one of the two options additionally delivered a reward to a recipient. Subsequently, we made the ravens play a no-cost cooperation game with an experimenter. The experimenter had the same options as the animals and matched the ravens’ choices, making the prosocial choice the more profitable option. In both conditions, ravens were indifferent to the effects of their choices and hence failed to help conspecifics and to cooperate with the experimenter. While our negative results should be interpreted with care, overall, our findings suggest that the ravens had no understanding of the consequences of their actions for a potential recipient. This study adds to several others that have used a similar set-up and have reported negative results on other-regarding preferences in animals.
Seiten (von - bis)35-43
FachzeitschriftAnimal Cognition
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2013

ÖFOS 2012

  • 603115 Philosophische Anthropologie
  • 106051 Verhaltensbiologie