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  • Raulo, Aura; Dantzer, Ben (2018)
    The causes and consequences of individual differences in animal behavior and stress physiology are increasingly studied in wild animals, yet the possibility that stress physiology underlies individual variation in social behavior has received less attention. In this review, we bring together these study areas and focus on understanding how the activity of the vertebrate neuroendocrine stress axis (HPA-axis) may underlie individual differences in social behavior in wild animals. We first describe a continuum of vertebrate social behaviors spanning from initial social tendencies (proactive behavior) to social behavior occurring in reproductive contexts (parental care, sexual pair-bonding) and lastly to social behavior occurring in nonreproductive contexts (nonsexual bonding, group-level cooperation). We then perform a qualitative review of existing literature to address the correlative and causal association between measures of HPA-axis activity (glucocorticoid levels or GCs) and each of these types of social behavior. As expected, elevated HPA-axis activity can inhibit social behavior associated with initial social tendencies (approaching conspecifics) and reproduction. However, elevated HPA-axis activity may also enhance more elaborate social behavior outside of reproductive contexts, such as alloparental care behavior. In addition, the effect of GCs on social behavior can depend upon the sociality of the stressor (cause of increase in GCs) and the severity of stress (extent of increase in GCs). Our review shows that the while the associations between stress responses and sociality are diverse, the role of HPA-axis activity behind social behavior may shift toward more facilitating and less inhibiting in more social species, providing insight into how stress physiology and social systems may co-evolve.
  • Adriaense, J. E. C.; Koski, S. E.; Huber, L.; Lamm, C. (2020)
    The aim of this review is to discuss recent arguments and findings in the comparative study of empathy. Based on a multidisciplinary approach including psychology and ethology, we review the non-human animal literature concerning theoretical frameworks, methodology, and research outcomes. One specific objective is to highlight discrepancies between theory and empirical findings, and to discuss ambiguities present in current data and their interpretation. In particular, we focus on emotional contagion and its experimental investigation, and on consolation and targeted helping as measures for sympathy. Additionally, we address the feasibility of comparing across species with behavioural data alone. One main conclusion of our review is that animal research on empathy still faces the challenge of closing the gap between theoretical concepts and empirical evidence. To advance our knowledge, we propose to focus more on the emotional basis of empathy, rather than on possibly ambiguous behavioural indicators, and we provide suggestions to overcome the limitations of previous research