Monkeys have ideas about the economy

(ORDO NEWS) — Although this ability is usually considered exclusively human, Swiss scientists have found that captive gorillas and orangutans are able to make economically rational decisions.

People are able to make economically rational decisions – for example, when choosing a potential job, they are more willing to go to an interview with a firm offering a higher salary.

However, it happens that logic fails us, and a person who has played too much will put the last bill in a casino, where he has already lost a significant amount of money.

To understand whether our closest relatives – great apes – have similar abilities, scientists from the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) conducted several experiments with orangutans and gorillas at the Basel Zoo.

The experiment involved five orangutans and three gorillas aged from four to 20 years. They were all born in captivity.

In the first experiment, the monkeys were asked to choose one of two cups: one (“safe”) treat was small but guaranteed, and the other (“risky”) could have a larger reward, but could not have anything.

It turned out that orangutans are more risk-averse than gorillas, and both species were more likely to choose the “risky” cup if they were hungry.

In the second experiment, the animals were again given the choice between a “safe” and a “risky” reward, but this time the latter was under one of several cups. You could only choose one.

This time, both monkey species took risks only if they knew that the “risky” reward was much more valuable than the “safe” one (for example, a candy versus a cracker).

However, they were also denied restraint if there was an opportunity to get something very valuable – for example, a handful of sweets.

Thus, our closest biological relatives, like us, are able to make economically rational decisions, but only if the stakes are not high enough.

If the potential reward turns out to be too tempting, the monkeys, just like the avid casino gambler, begin to take unnecessary risks – and most often remain without a reward at all.


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