Social factors in the facilitation of feeding in chickens: Effects of imitation, arousal, or disinhibition?

D. W. Rajecki, Robert F. Kidd, David A. Wilder, James Jaeger

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22 Scopus citations


2 experiments investigated the generality of socially enhanced consummatory behavior in chickens and the conditions that influence such enhancement. Exp I, with 24 Cornish Cross chickens, placed 2 consummatory responses (pecking and drinking) in competition. The design of the experiment contrasted 3 common interpretations of social facilitation of feeding in chickens: (a) the imitation of specific responses of another bird, (b) the arousing effect of another bird that energizes dominant responses (to a greater degree or at the expense of subordinate responses), and (c) the calming effect of another bird that results in the disinhibition of all responses inhibited by fear. The 1st 2 interpretations were cast into doubt since (a) social facilitation effects were found regardless of the behavior of the companion, and (b) both dominant and subordinate responses were enhanced in about the same proportion. The 3rd interpretation received some support. Additional evidence for the disinhibition interpretation was found in Exp II, which employed 8 Cornish Cross chickens. Ss placed in the test situation alone exhibited significantly more fear (as measured by the distress call) than Ss tested in pairs. (46 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-518
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1975

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • imitation vs arousal vs disinhibition explanations, socially enhanced consummatory behavior, chickens


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