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How Basic Are Behavioral Biases? Evidence from Capuchin Monkey Trading Behavior

Listed author(s):
  • M. Keith Chen
  • Venkat Lakshminarayanan
  • Laurie R. Santos

Behavioral economics has demonstrated systematic decision-making biases in both lab and field data. Do these biases extend across contexts, cultures, or even species? We investigate this question by introducing fiat currency and trade to a colony of capuchin monkeys and recovering their preferences over a range of goods and gambles. We show that capuchins react rationally to both price and wealth shocks but display several hallmark biases when faced with gambles, including reference dependence and loss aversion. Given our capuchins' inexperience with money and trade, these results suggest that loss aversion extends beyond humans and may be innate rather than learned.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/503550
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 114 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 517-537

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:114:y:2006:i:3:p:517-537
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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  9. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Timothy R. Berry, 2001. "GARP for Kids: On the Development of Rational Choice Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1539-1545, December.
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