Animal Cognition

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 299–308 | Cite as

Does a rat release a soaked conspecific due to empathy?

  • Lindsay P. SchwartzEmail author
  • Alan Silberberg
  • Anna H. Casey
  • David N. Kearns
  • Burton Slotnick
Original Paper


In Experiment 1, rats choosing in an E maze preferred to release a rat standing in a pool of water to dry ground over a rat already standing on dry ground. Five additional experiments showed that the choosing rat’s preference for releasing the wet rat was maintained by two separable outcomes: (1) the social contact offered by the released rat and (2) the reinforcing value of proximity to a pool of water. These results call into question Sato et al.’s (Anim Cogn 18:1039–1047, 2015) claim to have demonstrated that a rat’s releasing of a wet rat to dry ground is empathically motivated.


Empathy Social contact Water Rats 



This work was supported in part by Grant 1 R15 MH109922-01A1 to American University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsay P. Schwartz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alan Silberberg
    • 1
  • Anna H. Casey
    • 1
  • David N. Kearns
    • 1
  • Burton Slotnick
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA

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