Prosocial behavior in competitive fish: the case of the archerfish

Orit Nafcha, Dana Vilker, Simone Shamay-Tsoory, Shai Gabay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humans are social creatures, demonstrate prosocial behaviors, and are sensitive to the actions and consequent payoff of others. This social sensitivity has also been found in many other species, though not in all. Research has suggested that prosocial tendencies are more pronounced in naturally cooperative species whose social structure requires a high level of interdependence and allomaternal care. The present study challenges this assumption by demonstrating, in a laboratory setting, that archerfish, competitive by nature, preferred targets rewarding both themselves and their tankmates, but only when the payoff was equal. With no tankmate on the other side of the partition, they exhibited no obvious preference. Finding evidence for prosocial behavior and negative responses to unequal distribution of reward to the advantage of the other fish suggests that in a competitive social environment, being prosocial may be the most adaptive strategy for personal survival, even if it benefits others as well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number822
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Springer Nature Limited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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