[Ed. – So little time, so many ways to go with this one.]
Rats are capable of feeling regret about their own actions, an emotion that has never previously been found in any other mammals apart from humans.
Researchers set up a test called Restaurant Row in which the rats had to decide how long to wait for food.
“It’s like waiting in line at the restaurant,” Professor David Redish, of Minnesota University, told BBC Nature News. “If the line is too long at the Chinese restaurant, then you give up and go to the Indian restaurant across the street.”
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In some cases, the rats decided to move on from one “restaurant” that offered nice food but was taking too long, only to find the next one offered a less popular dish.
Faced with this scenario, the rats often stopped and looked back at the previous restaurant and were more likely to wait for longer for something nice.
Professor Redish said they had had to be careful to design the study so that they could monitor signs of regret and not just disappointment.
“Regret is the recognition that you made a mistake, that if you had done something else, you would have been better off,” he said.