Class instead of mass: Dogs are choosy at meals

Dogs decide by paradoxical effect for smaller feed portions

Even dogs act according to the "less is more" principle. SXC
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The main thing, the crowd is right? A hungry dog ​​decides on the fuller of two eating heads, if he has the choice, one might think. In reality, it is different: Dogs, like us humans, tend to the more paradoxical "less is more" principle, as US researchers report in the journal "Animal Cognition".

Almost always, the dog's nose is looking for something edible. If we offer something tasty to our four-legged friends, they strike right away. But what if they are given the choice, if they have to decide spontaneously between different offers? This has now been studied by scientists from the University of Kentucky. They wanted to know: Is the quality or rather the quantity for the dogs crucial?

Also for dogs is less often more

Ten dogs of different breeds initially fed the researchers in preliminary experiments with kisses or baby ears. All dogs showed a preference for the kisses. In the actual experiment, the scientists then gave the dogs a choice: a piece of cheese or a piece of cheese along with brass. Surprisingly, the dogs preferred the smaller portion and opted for the individually offered cheese.

In humans and monkeys, this so-called "less is more" effect is already known. In one study, for example, people valued the value of six baseball cards in good condition higher than those of the same set of cards, which in addition contained three cards in worse condition. A similar effect was observed in studies with monkeys. The animals with which they were fed ate grapes as well as cucumbers. If they had the choice, they preferred a single grape to a combination of a grape and a piece of cucumber. Affective heuristics, so experts call this effect, which can be seen as a kind of mental short circuit.

In the competition for food speed is required

Such a selection seems rather paradoxical. The researchers assume that the reason for this could be a time advantage. In most cases it is easier to evaluate the average quality than to estimate the total amount of alternatives offered. In cases where quick decisions need to be made, the "less is more" effect can be beneficial. For example, if a pack of dogs eats together, a groomed dog will get far less than one who makes a quick choice. display

One dog, however, chose the cow-brass variant in the experiment. However, this exception does not contradict the interpretation of the scientists: the one dog, who did not follow the "less is more" principle, spent his life in shelters, where he often had to fight alone. So he did not have to decide as quickly as possible to get ahead of competitors for a time advantage.

Is less more for less socially organized species?

"This research shows that the" less is more "effect is not unique to humans or other primates, but can also be observed in other mammals. This applies at least to socially organized species such as wolves, dogs, and jackals, "explains Kristina Pattison of the University of Kentucky. The scientist is convinced that further research is needed to understand whether this effect works well in less socially organized species, such as rats, or even in non-mammal species. can be observed. (Animal Cognition, 2014; doi: 10.1007 / s10071-014-0735-2

(Springer, 21.03.2014 - KEL)