Data from: The socially mediated recovery of a fearful fish paired with periodically replaced calm models
Crane, Adam L. et al. (2018), Data from: The socially mediated recovery of a fearful fish paired with periodically replaced calm models, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.r3117t8
Social learning is an important mechanism for acquiring knowledge about environmental risk. However, little work has explored the learning of safety and how such learning outcomes are shaped by the social environment. Here, we exposed minnows, Pimephales promelas, to a high-risk environment to induce behavioral responses associated with fear (e.g., neophobia). We then used the presence of calm conspecific models (low-risk individuals) to weaken these responses. When observers (individuals from the high-risk environment) and models were paired consistently in a one-on-one setting, the observers showed no recovery (i.e., no weakening of the fear responses), and instead the models indirectly acquired those responses (i.e., a socially-transmitted state of fear). However, observers paired with models that were periodically replaced with new calm models showed a significant recovery, and each new model showed diminished socially-transmitted fear. We argue that our understanding of predation-related fear and social information transfer can prove fruitful in understanding problems with fear and stress across animal taxa, including among humans who experience post-traumatic stress and secondary trauma. Our findings indicate that the periodic replacement of models can promote fear recovery in observers and reduce socially-transmitted fear in models.