Demand for Social Contact in Rats: Toward a Quantitative Analysis of Social Reinforcement Value

Lauren Vanderhooft,, Lavinia Tan, Timothy D. Hackenberg


Rats were studied in social-release procedures, in which lever presses by one rat released
a second rat from a tube restraint for a period of social interaction. Both the
fixed-ratio price and the duration of social contact were varied systematically on a
within-subject basis, generating a total of 27 demand functions across six subjects.
Overall, the data were well accounted for by the essential value model (96% VAF),
supporting a social reinforcement view, according to which social-release behavior is maintained by social contact with another rat. Response rates and parameter fitswere comparable in 25-min and 120-min sessions, showing little evidence of satiation.Overall, the findings suggest that socially-reinforced behavior shares functionalproperties with other reinforcers, and illustrate a promising set of methods for quantifying social reinforcement value.


social reinforcement, demand analysis, social release, rats

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Editor in Chief:

Dr. Carlos J. Flores-Aguirre

ISSN: 0185-4534

ISSN Electrónico: 2007-0802