Behavioral Responses to Inequity in Reward Distribution and Working Effort in Crows and Ravens

Wascher, Claudia A. F.; Bugnyar, Thomas
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Sensitivity to inequity is considered to be a crucial cognitive tool in the evolution of human cooperation. The ability has recently been shown also in primates and dogs, raising the question of an evolutionary basis of inequity aversion. We present first evidence that two bird species are sensitive to other individuals' efforts and payoffs. In a token exchange task we tested both behavioral responses to inequity in the quality of reward (preferred versus non-preferred food) and to the absence of reward in the presence of a rewarded partner, in 5 pairs of corvids (6 crows, 4 ravens). Birds decreased their exchange performance when the experimental partner received the reward as a gift, which indicates that they are sensitive to other individuals' working effort. They also decreased their exchange performance in the inequity compared with the equity condition. Notably, corvids refused to take the reward after a successful exchange more often in the inequity compared with the other conditions. Our findings indicate that awareness to other individuals' efforts and payoffs may evolve independently of phylogeny in systems with a given degree of social complexity.


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