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PLoS One. 2019 May 1;14(5):e0215444. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0215444. eCollection 2019.

Wolves, but not dogs, are prosocial in a touch screen task.

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Wolf Science Center, Domestication Lab, Konrad-Lorenz Institute of Ethology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria.
Comparative Cognition, Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria.
University of Tours, Parc Grandmont, Tours, France.


Prosociality is important for initiating cooperation. Interestingly, while wolves rely heavily on cooperation, dogs' do so substantially less thus leading to the prediction that wolves are more prosocial than dogs. However, domestication hypotheses suggest dogs have been selected for higher cooperation, leading to the opposing prediction- increased prosocial tendencies in dogs. To tease apart these hypotheses we adapted a paradigm previously used with pet dogs to directly compare dogs and wolves. In a prosocial choice task, wolves acted prosocially to in-group partners; providing significantly more food to a pack-member compared to a control where the partner had no access to the food. Dogs did not. Additionally, wolves did not show a prosocial response to non-pack members, in line with previous research that social relationships are important for prosociality. In sum, when kept in the same conditions, wolves are more prosocial than their domestic counterpart, further supporting suggestions that reliance on cooperation is a driving force for prosocial attitudes.

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