Proximate mechanisms of canine cooperation: Pro-social attitudes and inequity aversion (FWF P24840)

The aim of this project is twofold: first, to investigate whether and to which extent dogs show pro-social attitudes such as care, mediation or consolation and second, to elucidate the cognitive and motivational building blocks of inequity aversion in canines. Pro-social behaviour is defined as actively
offering food to a companion. It is considered to be part of altruism. Although pro-social tendencies have traditionally been investigated between conspecifics, the current project will explore whether dogs show pro-social tendencies towards their human partners because of the peculiar interspecific bond between dogs and humans. Although we know that dogs stop cooperating when treated unequally, it is unclear whether, as in humans, this behaviour is driven by the same evaluation of costs and gains in comparison to the partner or if it is based on simpler mechanisms.

Project leader: Friederike Range
Project collaborators: Mylène Chaumette (PhD student), Désirée Brucks (PhD student)
Term: March 2013–February 2016
Funded by: FWF – Austrian Science Fund