Wednesday March 29, 2023


Fish can adjust their sensitivity to the actions of others—such as fleeing due to a false alarm—to reduce the risk of responding to misinformation, according to a new study. Other animals, including humans, may also have these decision-making mechanisms.

When wild coral reef fish swim alone or in small groups, they are highly attuned to the actions of others. For example, when fish around them startle, they’re more likely to flee themselves. But in large, dense schools, where fish around them are more likely to startle or dart for no reason, individuals are more willing to take risks and tune down their sensitivity to social cues, making them less likely to flee when a neighboring fish does.

The behavior doesn’t necessarily discriminate between true threats and misinformation; rather, it adjusts sensitivity in a way that will lower the probability of responding to a false alarm.

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