Monkeys indicate economic decision-making may be innate
May 3, 2006
New research out of Yale University argues that monkeys and humans exhibit similar economic biases, suggesting that economic decision-making have deeper roots than many economists suspect.
The Yale researchers found that monkeys conducting business-like activities — including trading and gambling — behave in ways that closely mirror human behavioral inclinations.
"Traditionally, economists have remained agnostic as to the origins of human preferences," writeM. Keith Chen, Venkat Lakshminarayanan, and Laurie R. Santos, authors of the study. "[But] if much of the fundamental structure of our preferences were so deep rooted as to extend to closely-related species, this would bolster the assumption of preference stability."
Capuchin monkey in Brazil. Photo by R. Butler
"Our results suggest that loss-averse behavior is a very general feature of economic choice," explain the authors. "Given our capuchins' inexperience with trade and gambles, these results suggest that loss-aversion extends beyond humans, and may be innate rather than learned."
Capuchins, a group of monkeys found in Central and South America. are considered the most intelligent New World monkeys for their use of tools. They have even been observed crushing up and applying dead millipedes to their far as an insect repellant.
This article is uses quotes and excerpts from news release from Yale University.