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Keeping up with the Joneses: Dolphins' search knowledge for knowledge's sake

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  • Shani, Yaniv
  • Cepicka, Marie Christine
  • Shashar, Nadav

Abstract

Recent research on decision-making established that when not knowing the possible negative outcome of past experiences, individuals search for more information even when it confirms their early negative suspicion. It is argued that what drives this information search is the hope that the unpleasant state of "not knowing" ends when one faces the truth ([Shani et al., 2009], [Shani et al., 2008] and [Shani and Zeelenberg, 2007]). In this manuscript, we show that bottlenose dolphins as well, sometimes seek to increase their knowledge concerning food allocated to other dolphins in the group, even though such knowledge could not increase self-food availability. This search increases when own feed is augmented, and decreases when sexually engaged (a competing basic need to food and curiosity), suggesting that knowledge for knowledge's sake emerges particularly when the organisms' basic needs (e.g., food) have been satisfied, allowing higher-level psychological needs to emerge. This finding has diverse implications for understanding humans' curiosity and social comparison tendencies, as it appears that even in the animal kingdom information is viewed as a valuable asset of itself.

Suggested Citation

  • Shani, Yaniv & Cepicka, Marie Christine & Shashar, Nadav, 2011. "Keeping up with the Joneses: Dolphins' search knowledge for knowledge's sake," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 418-424, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:32:y:2011:i:3:p:418-424
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bougie, J.R.G. & Pieters, R. & Zeelenberg, M., 2003. "Angry customers don't come back, they get back : The experience and behavioral implications of anger and dissatisfaction in services," Other publications TiSEM 1708fb71-fd68-41d9-b870-e, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    2. Shani, Yaniv & Igou, Eric R. & Zeelenberg, Marcel, 2009. "Different ways of looking at unpleasant truths: How construal levels influence information search," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 110(1), pages 36-44, September.
    3. Uri Gneezy & John A. List & George Wu, 2006. "The Uncertainty Effect: When a Risky Prospect is Valued Less than its Worst Possible Outcome," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 1283-1309.
    4. Jiwoong Shin & Dan Ariely, 2004. "Keeping Doors Open: The Effect of Unavailability on Incentives to Keep Options Viable," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(5), pages 575-586, May.
    5. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    6. Zeelenberg, Marcel & Nijstad, Bernard A. & van Putten, Marijke & van Dijk, Eric, 2006. "Inaction inertia, regret, and valuation: A closer look," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 89-104, September.
    7. M. Keith Chen & Venkat Lakshminarayanan & Laurie R. Santos, 2006. "How Basic Are Behavioral Biases? Evidence from Capuchin Monkey Trading Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(3), pages 517-537, June.
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