Rats Feel Regret When They Make Poor Decisions
Rats, much like humans, experience regret when they make the wrong decision.
When rats were given the option of visiting different rooms that housed different foods and they chose the worse deal over the better one, they glanced back at the other room, rushed through eating their snack and were more likely to tolerate longer wait times for what they considered the more desirable food.
Researchers also discovered the rats' brain activity showed a missed opportunity and suggested that animals actually experience regret, according to Times Live.
"The rat is representing the counterfactual - the 'what might have been,'" David Redish, a neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and senior author of the study said.
The study is the first of its kind, as no other before have demonstrated that animals can feel regret. Previous studies have only hinted at its possibilities, according to Counsel & Heal.
"Regret occurs when you make a mistake, but recognize there's an alternate action you could have taken that would have resulted in a better outcome, he said. Disappointment happens when the world's just not as good as you hoped, but it's not necessarily your fault," Redish said.
"Regret is something we think of as very human and very cognitive," he added. "But we're seeing that the rats are much more cognitive than we thought."