Even rats feel peer pressure

May 12th, 2008 - 2:16 pm ICT by admin  

London, May 12 (ANI): Humans are not the only ones who succumb to peer pressure, for even rats feel it.

Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontaria, Canada, found that brown rats have a tendency to disregard personal experiences and copy the behaviour of their peers.

They also found that the urge to conform appears to be so strong that the rats opt to eat food they know to be unpalatable when interacting with other rats that have done the same.

As part of the demonstration, Bennett Galef and Elaine Whiskin at McMaster University in Hamilton put rats off cinnamon-flavoured food pellets by injecting the animals with a nausea-inducing chemical after their meals.

Given an option, these trained animals preferred to eat cocoa-flavoured food pellets.

But when those rats then spent time with demonstrator rats that had just eaten and smelt of cinnamon, they regained their liking for it.

According to Andrew Whiten, from the University of St Andrews, UK, the discovery stresses on the importance of social learning in the animal kingdom.

He said the big question now is why they conform.

“It’s not immediately obvious why a rat or chimp or human would cast aside what it knows from its own experience and adopt an inferior course of action just because everybody else is doing it,” New Scientist quoted him, as saying. (ANI)

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