It does occur in the wild. The concept is Pavlonian. When a dog sees food, he feels happy because he's getting food. You ring a bell when he eats and within a few days or weeks, you ring the bell and he gets all happy because he knows there's food coming.
Let's take that to a betta. A betta is content when there is food available. When the giant person decided to come close to the glass at a certain time of day, it means I get food, one of my needs are met, and I'm happy. The human has not directly been connected to the emotion yet. What I'm saying is, is it reasonable to assume that at some point, bettas cut out the middleman, like dogs, rats, and even goldfish do. Human near the glass means I'm content because my need will soon be met.
I think that is very well said. A very basic and practical explanation of something that usually tends to be over personified although, that's fun too. :P
I know I get SA after a few days. Even when I go to visit my mother, I often call the house to make sure everyone is still doing well.
And as for the whole personifying thing, it's still fun for me to do that. I think that even if it's all in our heads, it helps people create a better bond to their fish, and there is nothing wrong with that. =]
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth. ~ Henry Beston
Bettas and other animals live in their own world. We are there to feed them and take care of them and that's all they can possibly know. But this isn't to say that they don't have emotions. Two of my guys, Roo and Gibbs, get extremely stressed if they can't see each other. Gibbs especially - he will pale and get stress lines and look very sickly. But the moment I take away the divider and he sees Roo he's a whole new betta and they will flare for a few minutes and once the time is up I place the partition back in between them, and for the rest of the day they are content. I can't say for certain if Gibbs or Roo experience anything, but I'm sure there's some basic emotion going on. Who's to say? Who are we to say what animals can and cannot experience? Animals have completely different emotions than we do, some that we can't ascribe or label. How do we know what it feels like to flare? To breed and spawn? To have ammonia burn and finrot? We can't answer that because we're not fish, and fish aren't humans. And bettas can't talk, so they won't answer. Rant over :)
Personally, I can read my bettas to an extent. To say they're happy and sad and angry is giving human names to totally alien emotions. But they still feel what we feel ... just in a more simple and animal way. And I love anthropomorphizing, it just makes everything easier in a way.
Well, as you can see, everyone has their own opinions about it. I like that quote by the way. I just like hearing everyone talk about something that's completely subjective, rather than something like medication, where there are only a few answers that make sense.
I agree, this kind of conversation is very interesting. I was fortunate enough to take an entire semester-long seminar on animal minds many years ago when I was a freshman in college. It was a philosophy class but we also read a lot of writing by biologists, psychologists, and animal behaviorists. It was truly fascinating and enlightening.
After removing my female from the spawning tank, she got very stressed, with very well defined horizontal lines. I figured it was just from the move, but a few hours later she still had them, and kept trying to swim toward the spawn tank. I moved her right next to it, and as soon as she saw the male, her stress lines disappeared. A week or so later when I removed the male from the spawn tank and out of her view, she did the same thing until I put them back within view of each other.
I'm sure if I left her away long enough shed forget, but for now it seems that being able to see him keeps her happy.
What, my original story? All my fish (except Boba and the Corydoras) act like that. Even Möbius has begun swimming up to the glass now and wiggling to get my attention. Otherwise he just lays at the bottom of the tank staring at either his reflection, or the red indicator light on the heater.
Quinn's just the one I worry and pamper the most because he was the first one that actually got me interested in the hobby.
Tujin - Like I said before, depression/stress is greatly documented when separating breeding pairs or parents from fry. It all depends on how the breeder looks at it. Some say that the male isn't depressed, he's exhausted from working so hard over the nest and the fry. I think that the male is truely most content when he's left to watch his fry grow up. (Check out this article about leaving the male in with the fry, even after free-swimming.http://www.bettysplendens.com/articles/page.imp?articleid=809 )