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Experiments Suggest Animals Can Cooperate With Each Other If Benefits Accumulate And Partners Reciprocate

Date:
December 27, 2002
Source:
University Of Minnesota
Summary:
Animals can be a pretty uncooperative lot. While species like lions and prairie dogs cooperate in some cases, scientists seldom know the costs and benefits of cooperative acts in the wild. In particular, scientists have long been interested in situations in which cooperating animals give up something now in order to develop a relationship that pays off in the long run. Experimental studies show, however, that animals don't usually cooperate in these cases; apparently, they are unwilling to pass up an immediate benefit in order to gain more in the long run. Now, experiments with blue jays at the University of Minnesota suggest that animals may be induced to cooperate when their opponent reciprocates by tit-for-tat behavior and rewards accumulate over a sequence of plays.

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL -- Animals can be a pretty uncooperative lot. While species like lions and prairie dogs cooperate in some cases, scientists seldom know the costs and benefits of cooperative acts in the wild. In particular, scientists have long been interested in situations in which cooperating animals give up something now in order to develop a relationship that pays off in the long run. Experimental studies show, however, that animals don't usually cooperate in these cases; apparently, they are unwilling to pass up an immediate benefit in order to gain more in the long run. Now, experiments with blue jays at the University of Minnesota suggest that animals may be induced to cooperate when their opponent reciprocates by tit-for-tat behavior and rewards accumulate over a sequence of plays. The work, which will be published in the Dec. 13 issue of Science, suggests that these are among the factors guiding evolution of some animals--including humans--toward cooperative behavior.


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The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Minnesota. "Experiments Suggest Animals Can Cooperate With Each Other If Benefits Accumulate And Partners Reciprocate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 December 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021227072231.htm>.
University Of Minnesota. (2002, December 27). Experiments Suggest Animals Can Cooperate With Each Other If Benefits Accumulate And Partners Reciprocate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021227072231.htm
University Of Minnesota. "Experiments Suggest Animals Can Cooperate With Each Other If Benefits Accumulate And Partners Reciprocate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021227072231.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

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