Competition and Dominance Hierarchies in Rats (film #372 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]

Stark, silent college psychology film showing a behavioral experiment done on white rats. Three white rats are placed in a cramped beaker and forced to compete for a single food pellet. When they are well-fed, this results in competition but not outright battles. When they are underfed, however, it gets nasty. After a number of fights, they eventually settle into a hierarchy, with the rat whose the biggest bully getting first grabs at the food pellet, the middle rat occasionally offering mild resistance, and the submissive rat becoming so scared he refuses to eat even when alone. The stark, disturbing atmosphere of this film is intensified by the soundtrack, which consists only of film sprocket noises alternating with a trio of repetitive beats––boom boom boom, boom boom boom, over and over again. The uncaring “objectivity” of the film is also disturbing, considering that this was probably a highly stressful experience for the rats. The results of the experiment are interesting, though, showing us how dominance hierarchies are formed. This would be a good film for video artists to mine for footage for a film about violence.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

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