Search
Home

Behavioral Research Blog

Through the looking glass: the accuracy of measuring fish aggression by using mirror tests

Aug 18, 2014 9:00:00 AM

When we look into a mirror, we see a reflection of ourselves. As humans, we are aware that this is only a reflection and not actually another living person. However, very few animal species are able to acknowledge that their reflection is not another one of their species which could pose a threat to them. Capuchin monkeys, grey parrots, and elephants are among the few that are able to recognize their mirror image. A majority of animal species, including fish, treat the image in the mirror as a conspecific. As a result, it would make sense that a mirror test could be a good indicator of aggression, especially in fish. However, Valentina Balzarini and colleagues questioned this widespread method, noting recent studies which had shown that hormonal and gene expression responses differed between the fish being exposed to a conspecific or a reflection of itself.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, fish

The relationship between food scarcity and caching in fox squirrels

Aug 12, 2014 12:00:00 PM

We’ve all seen squirrels carrying acorns around in their mouths and burying them in the ground. This is a way to hoard food, and most squirrels use a strategy called scatter-hoarding. Instead of storing all of their excess food in one spot for easy access later, squirrels spread their food around in so many different caches that it is hard to believe they could find all of the spots again later. However, a squirrel has a choice to make when it comes across a food item – will it cache it and save it for later or will the squirrel eat it right there? Several factors play into this, such as quality, perishability, and scarcity. Mikel Delgado et al. studied how these different factors had an impact on the food-storing decisions of adult fox squirrels.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, foraging behavior

STEM learning between caregiver and child in a museum

Aug 7, 2014 12:00:00 PM

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why? Without realizing it ourselves, our choices in the future can be determined by our pasts and the interests that were fostered when we were children. This can be important especially in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects and fields because there are not enough people pursuing careers and opportunities in these fields to meet the demands. Catherine Haden and colleagues studied how effective a facilitated educational program in a children’s museum was for promoting conversations between caregiver and child and teaching the child about STEM subjects.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, parent-child interaction

How wild cavies and domesticated guinea pigs differ

Aug 5, 2014 4:00:00 PM

Domestication has a considerable effect on the behavior of animals, which is not very surprising. The dramatic change in their environment and provision of food and shelter alter the need for behaviors such as exploration and social behaviors. But what exactly is the difference?

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, social behavior research, guinea pigs, stress research

The impact of visitor access in a shelter on the welfare of shelter dogs

Jul 31, 2014 9:37:00 AM

If you’ve ever been to a shelter to adopt a dog, you know that when you walk into the holding area, the dogs can get very noisy. At the introduction of a stranger to the room their kennels are in, the dogs will start barking, which encourages the other dogs around them to bark as well. Barking has been documented as a stressor for dog, as have repetitive behavior and lots of movement. All of these behaviors seem to increase by the access of visitors to the kennel area. Lynn Hewison and colleagues decided to investigate if preventing visitor access to the dogs could lower stress levels and therefore increase general welfare of the animals.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, animal-human interaction, dogs, coding schemes, animal welfare, stress research

Neuromarketing: hope or hype?

Jul 29, 2014 2:00:00 PM

The application of neuroscience methods to marketing – neuromarketing – is growing in popularity. Marketers hope that neuroscience will provide them with information that is not obtainable through conventional marketing methods such as questionnaires and focus groups. Can neuroscience be the holy grail of the study of consumer behavior?

Read More

Topics: FaceReader, consumer behavior, physiology, Neuromarketing, consumer behavior research, eye tracking, EEG

Adolescent Motherhood – observing mother-infant behavior

Jul 25, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Teenagers have the perfect life, right? Living at mom and dad’s, eating without worrying about gaining weight, and relaxing all the way through high school. Unfortunately, not all adolescents have an easy-peasy life. Some have to study to achieve good grades and others have to deal with grownup problems on top of dealing with the emotional ups and downs of adolescence. What about teenage moms? Next to dealing with a newborn, adolescent mothers are tackling their transition to adulthood (taking more distance from parental figures) and the transition to parenthood (the nurturing of an infant and caring for his or her physical and emotional needs). This is called the double risk for mother and infant, inherent in adolescent motherhood. (Riva Crugnola et al. 2014)

Double risk – invest in a solution

Current research from Prof. Cristina Riva Crugnola, University of Milano-Bicocca tells us that adolescent mothers as well as their babies (vs. adult mother and infant interactions) spent more time in negative engagement, meaning that the mothers showed more pushy behaviors towards the infant, even hostility. The infant also showed more negative behaviors, such as protesting with expressions of anger and crying. 

Riva Crugnola and colleagues state that it is important to train skills and competence in adolescent mother-infant interaction by setting up prevention programs. Young mothers should be supported in learning how to be a mother and regulating emotions (in particular, negative ones). Also, timing is everything - the researchers explain that it is also important to start preventive intervention in the first months of life.

Read More

Topics: The Observer XT, infant behavior, Observation lab, parent-infant dyads, adolescent behavior

How an internal clock gene can alter innate behaviors in mice

Jul 24, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Some might argue that laboratory mice are not the same as wild mice, yet they remain capable of performing the innate, routine behaviors necessary to survive in natural environments, such as courtship, nest-building, and exploratory activities. Still, their ‘non-natural’ (read: laboratory) environment may limit them in the expression of these behaviors, something we recently addressed in these blog posts.

Circadian rhythmicity

The internal circadian clock is of fundamental importance for animals to anticipate recurring events and ensuring basic behaviors, such as  gathering food and building a nest, occur in time. One of the ways we influence the animal’s natural capacity to perform these and other innate behaviors is by altering the light/dark cycle in a laboratory setting.

Read More

Topics: EthoVision XT, mice, Video tracking, circadian rhytmicity, sociability test, marble burying

5 reasons why you should go to Measuring Behavior 2014

Jul 14, 2014 9:28:00 AM

Measuring Behavior is an international multidisciplinary conference which takes place every two years. This August it is in Wageningen, in the Netherlands. If you are a behavioral researcher, you really ought to attend. Why?

1.    The diverse, multidisciplinary program. The scientific program contains contributions focusing on purely scientific aspects (issues of replicability, dynamic aspects of behavior) and applied research (animal welfare), human behavior (eye trackers in consumer research) and animal (rodent behavior), technical sessions (video tracking of social animals and recognition of human behaviors from video), sessions presenting the latest technology (3D simulators) and topics that are of relevance to everyone (eating behavior of people). The above list just scratches the surface of what promises to be a very diverse and interesting three days.

Read More

Topics: animal behavior research, emotion recognition, animal welfare, methods and techniques, Automating behavioral observations, human behavior research, consumer behavior, behavioral research

Why do we drink less when watching gut-wrenching movies?

Jul 7, 2014 3:13:30 PM

It has never been said that humans are immune to the emotional effects of lying, stealing, and cheating, but the majority of us are not easily fazed since we encounter this type of thing every day. It might only be a fragment of a movie we are watching: morally offensive acts such as crime and deception are all around us on the news, in the papers, and on the streets.

In a recent study, Cindy Chan and her colleagues (Department of Marketing, Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania) posed the question: How does exposure to moral violations influence consumption? The researchers explain that, for example, people may drink less coffee while reading the Sunday paper’s exposé of corporate fraud, a violation of ethical business practices. Or people may consume less candy at the theater while watching Wall Street, a film that portrays destruction, crime, and greed.

Read More

Topics: emotion recognition, FaceReader, Neuromarketing, consumer behavior research, emotions


Subscribe by Email

 

 

Posts by category