Altruistic behavior in the albino rat


This experiment was designed to establish more conclusively the presence or absence of operationally defined altruistic behavior in the white rat. One animal could significantly reduce or completely alleviate another animal’s distress state (created by foot shock) by appropriate manipulation of two operant levers. “Altruistic” behavior was shown to a significant degree only by animals that had themselves experienced the same distress state. An explanation of the results, based on factors other than “instinctive” ones, is offered.


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Correspondence to James Thomas Greene.

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The assistance and encouragement of Dr. William James, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, are sincerely appreciated.

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Greene, J.T. Altruistic behavior in the albino rat. Psychon Sci 14, 47–48 (1969).

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  • Physiological Psychology
  • Food Pellet
  • Lever Press
  • Altruistic Behavior
  • Shock Avoidance