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Effect of a Dummy Audience on Male–Male Interactions in Siamese Fighting Fish, Betta splendens


T. Dzieweczynski, Department of Psychology, Decary Hall, 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, ME 04005. E-mail:


Recent research on Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, and other taxa has demonstrated that an audience can cause males to alter their behavior in aggressive interactions. One factor not taken into account in these studies is how exactly the audience influences these interactions. It is possible that a live audience may interact with the subjects, creating an active communication network rather than a signaler–receiver dyad with a passive audience. Here, we used a dummy audience to control for information exchange between the audience and the interactants that might cause them to modify their behavior. Audience treatments included dummies of male and female B. splendens, a dummy cichlid, and a control condition with no audience present. The presence of a dummy audience did not influence male–male interactions. However, males spent the most time near the audience tank when the audience was a dummy of a B. splendens. This suggests that some factor other than the physical presence of the audience is responsible for the modification of behavior found in previous audience effect studies in Siamese fighting fish. However, we cannot rule out definitively that our dummy audience is viewed as unimportant by the opponents and, thus, ignored. Further research is necessary to determine which component of the audience is important for producing audience effects.