Animals Feel Regret

When it comes to food choices

Damn your tricks, humans! (Photo: lculig/Getty Images)
OutsideOnline rat maze trick experiment experience regret food snack reward good option wheel-spoke Redish Labs neuroscientists bread cherry scramble foodie paused look back could have been

Neuroscientists from the Redish Lab at the University of Minnesota claim that rats that move from one potential food reward to a less desirable but immediately gratifying snack look back on the original option with regret.

Researchers developed Restaurant Row, a wheel-spoke maze of food rewards that assessed how long rats would wait for the "good option," and considered the rats' decisions regret-induced. When the scrambling foodies decided not to wait on Restaurant Row and reached for an immediate reward, they often paused and looked back at the snack that didn't make them wait.

"You can wait at the Chinese restaurant and eat there," lead researcher David Redish told Wired, "or you can say, 'Forget it. This wait is too long,' and go to the Indian restaurant across the street."

Redish admits his findings do not represent the same regret-based synapse in humans and rats, but his team did identify and cater to each rat's preferred flavor palette, suggesting that rats feel something toward actions they do not take and that the subsequent change in behavior reflects rats' hasty appetites.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: News
Lead Photo: lculig/Getty Images
More Adventure