For Stressed Bees, the Glass Is Half Empty

When people are depressed or anxious, they are much more likely to see their glass as half empty than half full. In tough times, evidence of that same pessimistic outlook can be seen in dogs, rats, and birds. Now, researchers reporting online on June 2 in Current Biology, show that bees, too, share those very same hallmarks of negative emotion.

“We have shown that the emotional responses of bees to an aversive event are more similar to those of humans than previously thought,” said Geraldine Wright of Newcastle University. “Bees stressed by a simulated predator attack exhibit pessimism mirroring that seen in depressed and anxious people.”

“In other words,” added study first author Melissa Bateson, “the stressed bee’s glass is half empty.”

But, they say, that isn’t the same as saying that bees consciously experience emotions in the way that we do. On that point, the jury is still out.

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Categories: Psychology

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