Show Details

Fair-Minded Ravens

June 5, 2017

Ravens, like humans, remember who has treated them fairly.


Ravens Massen700

Researcher Jorg Massen with hand-raised ravens. (Photo courtesy of Jorg Massen)


Fair-minded ravens. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Humans aren’t the only species with a sense of fairness. Researchers report in the journal Animal Behaviour that ravens remember people who have treated them unfairly, even just once. University of Vienna cognitive biologist Jorg Massen says the birds were trained to exchange bread for pieces of cheese.

JORG MASSEN (University of Vienna):

And for ravens a piece of cheese is much better than a piece of bread.


When faced with new trading partners, some gave them the cheese, while others kept the cheese and ate it themselves. Two days later, the ravens prefered to interact with those who had treated them fairly, avoiding the cheats.


And then we tested them later on once again after a month and we could then show that they could remember that at least for a month.


Massen says, like us, ravens have complex social lives, so it makes sense to remember who they can trust. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard

Raven Flying Massen700

A raven in flight. (Photo courtesy of Jorg Massen)