Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sometimes less is more for hungry dogs

Date:
March 19, 2014
Source:
Springer
Summary:
Hungry dogs would be expected to choose alternatives leading to more food rather than less food. But just as with humans and monkeys, they sometimes show a 'less is more' effect. Thus conclude scientists who tested the principle by feeding baby carrots and string cheese to 10 dogs of various breeds.

Hungry dogs would be expected to choose alternatives leading to more food rather than less food. But just as with humans and monkeys, they sometimes show a "less is more" effect. Thus conclude Kristina Pattison and Thomas Zentall of the University of Kentucky in the US, who tested the principle by feeding baby carrots and string cheese to ten dogs of various breeds. The findings are published in Springer's journal Animal Cognition.

The research was conducted on dogs that would willingly eat cheese and baby carrots when offered, but showed a preference for the cheese. However, when given a choice between one slice of cheese, or the cheese together with a piece of carrot, nine of the ten dogs chose the cheese alone. That is, they chose less food over more food.The "less is more" effect is considered an affect heuristic or mental shortcut that sometimes shows a preference for the qualitative over the quantitative when considering different options.

It appears that the dogs averaged the quality of the cheese plus carrot, rather than sum up the quantity of food. This quick decision making was first demonstrated in humans, and later in monkeys. People, for instance, tend to place greater value on a set of six baseball cards that are in perfect condition, than on the same set of six perfect cards together with three more cards in fair condition. A similar effect was also reported in studies of monkeys where the animals would eat both grapes and cucumbers, but preferred one grape over one grape plus a slice of cucumber when given the option.

The researchers believe that this paradoxical choice occurs because in most cases it is easier to judge the average quality than the overall quantity of alternatives. In cases where rapid decisions must be made, quick solution-driven heuristics such as the "less is more" effect may therefore come in handy. For instance, it is helpful when members of the same species, such as a pack of dogs, feed together. The one that hesitates may lose food to faster-choosing competitors. Such heuristics may also help prey in the wild to make rapid decisions rather than become supper. But the fact that one in ten dogs did choose the cheese-and-carrot combination suggests that levels of motivation may play a role in this effect. The outlier dog, for instance, had a history of living in shelters and fending for himself.

"The present research indicates that the less is more effect is not unique to humans and other primates but can occur in other mammalian species, at least those that are socially organized such as carnivores like wolves, dogs and jackals," says Pattison. She believes that further research is needed to find out if the "less is more" effect also occurs in less socially organized species such as rats, or non-mammalian species such as birds.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Kristina F. Pattison, Thomas R. Zentall. Suboptimal choice by dogs: when less is better than more. Animal Cognition, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s10071-014-0735-2

Cite This Page:

Springer. "Sometimes less is more for hungry dogs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319153156.htm>.
Springer. (2014, March 19). Sometimes less is more for hungry dogs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319153156.htm
Springer. "Sometimes less is more for hungry dogs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140319153156.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins