Inequity Aversion Negatively Affects Tolerance and Contact-Seeking Behaviours towards Partner and Experimenter

Inequity aversion has been proposed to act as a limiting factor for cooperation, thus prevent- ing subjects from disadvantageous cooperative interactions. While a recent study revealed that also dogs show some sensitivity to inequity, the underlying mechanisms of this behaviour are still unclear. The aim of the current study was threefold: 1) to replicate the study by Range et al. (2009, PNAS, 106, 340–345); 2) to investigate the emotional mechanisms involved in the inequity response by measuring the heart rate and 3) to explore the link between inequity aversion and cooperation in terms of behaviours shown towards the part- ner dog and towards the experimenter who caused the inequity. [...]  

Results suggest that inequity aversion might in fact be mediated by simple emotional mechanisms: sharing a negative experience, like inequity, might reduce future cooperation by decreasing the likelihood of proximity being maintained between partners. 

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Jennifer Bentlage, MSc.

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