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Behav Processes. 2009 Sep;82(1):30-8. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2009.03.007. Epub 2009 Mar 28.

Parameters of rewards on choice behavior in Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens).

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Department of Psychology, California State University Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8039, USA.


Five experiments were conducted with Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) to investigate how choices in a T-maze were affected by parameters of a social reward (aggression display to another male): presence or absence, amount, delay and distance traveled. Bettas showed a preference for the side associated with the presence of another male rather than the side associated with nothing (Exp 1), a greater length of time of the reward (Exp 2) and shorter delay (Exp 3). The animals were indifferent when one side offered a longer delay to a longer reward time compared with a shorter delay to a shorter reward time (Exp 4). What was most surprising, however, was that fish preferred to choose the side that was associated with swimming a greater distance to reach an opponent male (Exp 5). These experiments demonstrate that, while some parameters of a visual reward affect behavior in predictable ways (greater amount, shorter delay), the complex motivations underlying inter-male aggression can produce what appear to be paradoxical results.

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