Priming effect and pre-exposure aggression in Siamese fighting fish

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  • Frédéric Bertucci
  • Ricardo Jorge Santa Clara Matos
  • Torben Dabelsteen
Interactions and communication between individuals occur in a complex social environment in which
senders and receivers are able to adjust their behaviour according to the context. Watching fights between
others acts on a bystander’s motivation to engage in a fight and may make it behave more aggressively
during subsequent disputes. This phenomenon is known as aggressive priming. The aim of our study was
to investigate if this priming response follows a step function, i.e. appears only above a threshold level of
aggression witnessed by a bystander. We found that bystanders behaved more aggressively in subsequent
interactions when pre-exposed to an aggressive conspecific that was engaged in a fight whatever the level
of aggression this fight reached. However, bystanders’ behaviour after pre-exposure was not correlated to
the previously witnessed level of aggressiveness. These results suggest that individuals alter their behaviour
in an aggressive social environment and indicate that priming effect follows a step function where
aggression is triggered by an aggressive context. We discuss our results and the effect of pre-exposure on
agonistic interactions in a communication network perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2008
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventEuropean Conference on Behavioural Biology - Dijon, France
Duration: 18 Jul 200820 Jul 2008


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Behavioural Biology

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