According to a new study by researchers in Austria, crows can experience negative emotional infections in a laboratory environment.
Emotional infections are thought to occur when the emotional state of an individual affects another’s emotional state. Emotional states – such as sadness or anger – can move from one individual to the next. When a bird becomes depressed, the whole flock can be washed immediately.
New experiments have shown that crows can experience social phenomena in a laboratory environment.
“The study of animal feelings is often responded with skepticism,” said Jesse Adrianse, cognitive biologist at the University of Vienna in Austria. “Research has developed, and we no longer follow the notion that emotions are less important than, for example, cognitive skills.”
“Like humans, animals move and motivate their emotional state, which is reflected in their results and cognitive behavior,” Adriaense said. “Although this remains a challenging research project, this research shows that we are moving in the right direction.”
For the test, the researchers divided eight birds into four pairs, each with two boxes to choose from, one empty and one hiding a piece of cheese. Crow like cheese.
Only after a few repetitions, the crow finds which cheese box is in the box. After crows understood this test, the researchers added a third box to the mixture and monitored the responses of the two birds – called cognitive bias tests. Scientists determine whether crows respond with optimism or pessimism.
The couple was then divided and presented with a new choice: between carrots and dry dog food. Crows don’t like carrots. While crows choose between two boxes, the other crows watch. Observers can only see the test partner’s previous reaction and not the contents of the selected box.
Finally, crows were reintroduced with cognitive bias tests. Observers who see disappointed answers are more likely to spend time looking at the third box with worry. The Ravens, who have observed normal behavior, respond normally to the third box.
Results released in this week’s PNAS magazine show that crows may experience negative emotional contamination. The researchers suggest that their unique research methods, which include the integration of behavioral testing and psychological testing strategies, can be used to study other animals.
“Now that we know how it works, we can apply it to different animals,” said Adriaense. “It’s difficult to reach this stage, but we have benefited greatly from interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty and research fields.”