Neophobia is not only avoidance: Improving neophobia tests by combining cognition and ecology
Greggor, Alison L.
Clayton, Nicola S.
Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
Reason for embargo
Psychologists and behavioural ecologists use neophobia tests to measure behaviours ranging from anxiety to predatory wariness. Psychologists typically focus on underlying cognitive mechanisms at the expense of ecological validity, while behavioural ecologists generally examine adaptive function but ignore cognition. However, neophobia is an ecologically relevant fear behaviour that arises through a cognitive assessment of novel stimuli. Both fields have accrued conflicting results using various testing protocols, making it unclear what neophobia tests measure and what correlations between neophobia and other traits mean. Developing cognitively and ecologically informed tests allows neophobia to be empirically evaluated where appropriate and controlled for where it interferes with other behavioural measures. We offer guidelines for designing tests and stress the need for interdisciplinary dialogue to better explore neophobia's proximate causes and ecological consequences.
A.T. is funded by a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship (BB/H021817/1)
Vol. 6, pp. 82 - 89