Frust and bad mood contagion among ravens

Frustration is not only shared among human, but also in ravens: birds behaved pessimistic after they had previously observed a frustrated conspecific.

Raven observers show emotional contagion with raven demonstrators experiencing an unpleasant affect

To effectively navigate the social world, we need information about each other’s emotions. Emotional contagion has been suggested to facilitate such information transmission, constituting a basic building block of empathy that could also be present in non-human animals. Most animal studies have faced difficulties in measuring the emotional valence in contagion. A collaboration between cognitive biologists and social neuroscientists at University of Vienna solves this problem by integrating behavioral and psychological methods. They show that ravens observing a conspecific in a negative emotional state subsequently perform in a pessimistic manner on a judgment task. The results of this study have been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Publication in "PNAS"
Adriaense, J.E.C., Martin, J.S., Schiestl, M., Lamm, C. & Bugnyar, T. Negative emotional contagion and cognitive bias in common ravens (Corvus corax). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (in press)

Research members of the Vienna CogSciHub
Jessie Adriaense, Thomas Bugnyar and Claus Lamm.

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