Effects of stress on defensive aggression and dominance in a water competition test
- Cite this article as:
- Lucion, A. & Vogel, W.H. Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science (1994) 29: 415. doi:10.1007/BF02691361
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Water-deprived rats in a pair competing for a single source of water quickly establish a firm relationship during which one rat drinks consistently more (dominant) than the other (submissive) animal. This relationship is formed during the first competition and is very stable during subsequent tests. Exposure of dominant rats to a severe (18 hrs immobilization), but not a mild (2 hrs immobilization), stressor reduced markedly aggressive behavior and inverted transiently the dominant submissive relationship of the pairs. Exposure of submissive rats to the severe stressor resulted in only minor reductions of aggressive behavior in these animals. Prestress anxiety predicted stress effects in the dominant animals in that high-anxious animals lost more dominant behavior and weight during stress as compared with low-anxious rats. Thus, severe stress can transiently reduce dominant but not submissive behavior during water competition and high-anxious rats are more prone to lose their aggressive behavior.