A new study suggests that frog can prefer a less attractive of two options when a third option is added
It’s not only the humans who tend to make unexpected mating choices. Even frogs can be irrational while choosing their partners.
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A new study suggests that female tungara frogs can switch to less attractive of two potential mating options when third unattractive option is added.
The tiny Tungara frogs choose a mate on the attractiveness of male’s call. So, the researchers tested female frogs with two males who have different call attractiveness and call rate. Almost all female frogs liked the longer calls from caller B and picked it over caller A. But when researchers added a third option, a male with relatively slow and inferior call, the female frogs reversed their preferences. They started to pick caller A over B after hearing the third unattractive mating call.
“Whatever you choose as the most important trait to begin with should also be the most important trait if you introduce a third option. For some reason, adding a third option leads you to evaluate the first two and reverse your preferences,” said Amanda M. Lea, a biologist from University of Texas and the co-author of the study.
“People are interested in this because it’s such a common thing for people.”
Lea is linking the findings of the study with a well-known marketing trick “Decoy Effect”, in which consumer goes with an option which he does not want to go initially but the introduction of third option change his mind. For example, a consumer might prefer a cheap, compact car over a large and expensive car but when salesman shows even more expensive car than two others, the consumer might reconsider. He will not choose the third option; instead he will buy the second most expensive car.
The researchers are still figuring out how it’s working but choosing an unexpected option should not always be considered wrong.
“In some cases irrational decisions can be looked at as the better way to have gone,” said Lea. “Going with your intuition is often better. It just depends on how you weigh your costs and benefits.”
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The study was published in magazine Science.