Risk-sensitive foraging in rats: The effects of response-effort and reward-amount manipulations on choice behavior

Ari P. Kirshenbaum, Allen D. Szalda-Petree, Nabil F. Haddad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The literature on risk-sensitive foraging theory provides several accounts of species that fluctuate between risk-averse and risk-prone strategies. The daily energy budget rule suggests that shifts in foraging strategy are precipitated by changes in the forager's energy budget. Researchers have attempted to alter the organism's energy budget using a variety of techniques such as food deprivation, manipulation of ambient temperatures, and delays to food reward; however, response-effort manipulations have been relatively neglected. A choice preparation using a wheel-running response and rats examined risk-sensitive preferences when both response effort and reward amounts were manipulated. Concurrently available reinforcement schedules (FI/60 and VI/60) yielded equivalent food amounts per unit time in all treatments. Two levels of response effort (20 or 120 g tangential resistance) and two levels of reward amount (three or nine pellets) were combined to form four distinct response-effort/reward-amount pairings. Increasing reward amounts significantly shifted choice toward the FI schedule in both response-effort conditions. The incidence of choice preference and the magnitude of shifts in choice were greater for the high response-effort conditions than for the low response-effort conditions. Implications of the significant interaction between response effort and reward amount are discussed in terms of a general energy-budget model. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 7 2000


  • Foraging theory
  • Response-effort
  • Risk-sensitivity


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