Year of Publication
Master of Science (MS)
Arts and Sciences
Dr. Michael T. Bardo
Adolescence is a time associated with increased risk taking and peer relations. Research has shown that adolescents are more vulnerable to peer pressure compared to adults, leading to exacerbated risk taking. Preclinical research suggests that these findings may also be applicable to adolescent rodents, which find social interaction rewarding and are prone to risky behavior. There is, however, little research on the effect of social interaction on rodent models of risky decision-making. This thesis utilized social chambers, which consisted of adjacent operant chambers separated by wire mesh. Adolescent rats performed a risky decision-making task in which they had a choice between a small and large reward (associated with a mild footshock, which increased in probability across the session). Experiment 1 determined if the presence of peer altered performance on the task after stability. Experiment 2 determined if the presence of a peer altered performance on the task during acquisition. Results of Experiment 1 revealed no significant changes. Results from Experiment 2 revealed a significant increase in preference for the risky reward in the group of rats that had daily exposure to a social peer. These results provide evidence that social influence on risk taking can be modeled in rodents.
Weiss, Virginia, "Effect of Social Peers on Risky Decision Making in Male Sprague Dawley Rats" (2015). Theses and Dissertations--Psychology. 78.