IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Evolution of Our Preferences: Evidence from Capuchin-Monkey Trading Behavior

  • M. Keith Chen

    ()

    (School of Management, Yale University)

  • Venkat Lakshminarayanan
  • Laurie Santos

Behavioral economics has demonstrated systematic decision-making biases in both lab and field data. But are these biases learned or innate? We investigate this question using experiments on a novel set of subjects — capuchin monkeys. By introducing a fiat currency and trade to a capuchin colony, we are able to recover their preferences over a wide range of goods and risky choices. We show that standard price theory does a remarkably good job of describing capuchin purchasing behavior; capuchin monkeys react rationally to both price and wealth shocks. However, when capuchins are faced with more complex choices including risky gambles, they display many of the hallmark biases of human behavior, including reference-dependent choices and loss-aversion. Given that capuchins demonstrate little to no social learning and lack experience with abstract gambles, these results suggest that certain biases such as loss-aversion are an innate function of how our brains code experiences, rather than learned behavior or the result of misapplied heuristics.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d15a/d1524.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1524.

as
in new window

Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Political Economy (2006), 114(3): 517-537
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1524
Contact details of provider: Postal: Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA
Phone: (203) 432-3702
Fax: (203) 432-6167
Web page: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/
More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Battalio, Raymond C & Green, Leonard & Kagel, John H, 1981. "Income-Leisure Tradeoffs of Animal Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 621-32, September.
  2. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
  3. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  4. Battalio, Raymond C, et al, 1981. "Commodity-Choice Behavior with Pigeons as Subjects," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(1), pages 67-91, February.
  5. David Genesove & Christopher Mayer, 2001. "Loss Aversion and Seller Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 8143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kagel, John H, et al, 1975. "Experimental Studies of Consumer Demand Behavior Using Laboratory Animals," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(1), pages 22-38, March.
  7. Kagel, John H, et al, 1981. "Demand Curves for Animal Consumers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 1-15, February.
  8. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0407001, EconWPA.
  9. Theodore W. Schultz, 1962. "Reflections on Investment in Man," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1.
  10. Richard J. Herrnstein & Drazen Prelec, 1991. "Melioration: A Theory of Distributed Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 137-156, Summer.
  11. Battalio, Raymond C & Kagel, John H & MacDonald, Don N, 1985. "Animals' Choices over Uncertain Outcomes: Some Initial Experimental Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 597-613, September.
  12. Varian, Hal R, 1982. "The Nonparametric Approach to Demand Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 945-73, July.
  13. Don MacDonald & John Kagel & Raymond Battalio, 1990. "Tests of 'fanning out' of indifference curves: Results from animal and human experiments," Framed Field Experiments 00165, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. 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.
  15. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  16. Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92, February.
  17. Kate Krause & Timothy Berry & William Harbaugh, 2001. "Garp for kids: On the development of rational choice behavior," Artefactual Field Experiments 00056, The Field Experiments Website.
  18. Harbaugh, William T. & Krause, Kate & Vesterlund, Lise, 2001. "Are adults better behaved than children? Age, experience, and the endowment effect," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 175-181, February.
  19. Bruce G. S. Hardie & Eric J. Johnson & Peter S. Fader, 1993. "Modeling Loss Aversion and Reference Dependence Effects on Brand Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 12(4), pages 378-394.
  20. John Kagel & Leonard Green & Raymond Battalio, 1995. "Economic choice theory. an experimental analysis of animal behavior," Framed Field Experiments 00166, The Field Experiments Website.
  21. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1524. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Glena Ames)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.