Manifestations of domination: Assessments of social dominance in rodents

Hannah D. Fulenwider, Maya A. Caruso, Andrey E. Ryabinin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Social hierarchies are ubiquitous features of virtually all animal groups. The varying social ranks of members within these groups have profound effects on both physical and emotional health, with lower-ranked individuals typically being the most adversely affected by their respective ranks. Thus, reliable measures of social dominance in preclinical rodent models are necessary to better understand the effects of an individual's social rank on other behaviors and physiological processes. In this review, we outline the primary methodologies used to assess social dominance in various rodent species: those that are based on analyses of agonistic behaviors, and those that are based on resource competition. In synthesizing this review, we conclude that assays based on resource competition may be better suited to characterize social dominance in a wider variety of rodent species and strains, and in both males and females. Lastly, albeit expectedly, we demonstrate that similarly to many other areas of preclinical research, studies incorporating female subjects are lacking in comparison to those using males. These findings emphasize the need for an increased number of studies assessing social dominance in females to form a more comprehensive understanding of this behavioral phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12731
JournalGenes, Brain and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • agonistic behavior
  • hierarchy
  • resource competition
  • social rank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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