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Making sense of monkey business: Re-examining tests of animal rationality

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  • Allen, Roy
  • Dziewulski, Paweł
  • Rehbeck, John

Abstract

This paper re-examines research that studies economic rationality using experimental data generated by nonhuman animals (e.g. rats, pigeons, monkeys, etc.). The standard experimental methodology to elicit choices from nonhuman animals allows a researcher to test three types of economic rationality: standard deterministic utility maximization, average choice rationality, and random utility maximization. Most of the research has evaluated whether animals satisfy average choice rationality. We describe the difference between these models and check each type of rationality on capuchin monkey data from Chen et al.(2006). We reject standard deterministic utility maximization and random utility maximization for most subjects, but we cannot reject average choice rationality. This paper is the first to provide a statistical test for average choice rationality.

Suggested Citation

  • Allen, Roy & Dziewulski, Paweł & Rehbeck, John, 2022. "Making sense of monkey business: Re-examining tests of animal rationality," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 196(C), pages 220-228.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:196:y:2022:i:c:p:220-228
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2022.02.004
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