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Science Idle

Study: Rats Regret Making the Wrong Decision 94

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered that rats in a decision making experiment showed three behaviors consistent with regret. David Redish and his graduate student Adam Steiner '...trained rats to do a task they call "restaurant row." The rat ran around a circle past a series of four spokes, each leading to a different flavor of food. As the rat came to the entrance of each spoke, a tone sounded that indicated how long it would have to wait to receive that specific flavor of food. The rat could choose whether to stay or go, depending on how much it liked that food and how long it would have to wait...The rats showed three behaviors consistent with regret. First, the rats only looked backwards in the regret conditions, and not in the disappointment conditions. Second, they were more likely to take a bad deal if they had just passed up a good deal. And third, instead of taking their time eating and then grooming themselves afterwards, the rats in the regret conditions wolfed down the food and immediately took off to the next restaurant.'"
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Study: Rats Regret Making the Wrong Decision

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  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @08:58PM (#47192515)
    Looking around for other food immediately? They could have just been hungry.
  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Grim Reefer ( 1162755 ) on Sunday June 08, 2014 @09:28PM (#47192599)

    It's not really that surprising. Rats are pretty smart. Especially compared to many other rodents. My daughter had a pet rat, it was pretty surprising how attached my wife got to it. We had originally planned to let her get two rats because they are very social and do better in pairs. But the one my daughter picked did not like other rats at all. The people at the pet store said that she got into some pretty nasty fights with any other rats, even the ones from her original litter. But she really craved human interaction. My daughter forgot to lock her cage once. It was within the first two week of her getting the rat. It was not even five minutes later that my wife looked down because she felt something on her foot. The rat almost immediately found my wife and was trying to climb her leg.

    Food is the best way to train a rat. we noticed that the one my daughter had would often times turn down food it liked if it thought we had something else that it liked better. I don't think I've seen too many other animals that would do that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2014 @10:48PM (#47192843)


  • Re:Wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Arker ( 91948 ) on Monday June 09, 2014 @12:24AM (#47193093) Homepage
    "That means even a rat is more ethical/honorable than former U.S. president George W. Bush."

    I have to disagree. There is no ethics or honor demonstrated here, simply regret over not getting a particular treat.

    In order to be ethical or unethical you first must have the mental capability to frame ethical questions and grasp ethical concepts, and all evidence indicates rats and most if not all other animals on the planet cannot do that, so they can be neither ethical nor unethical. There is no point in accusing a rat of acting unethically, he is simply being a rat and if you expected anything else you are a fool.

    Some would say the same is true of politicians.

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