Natural Choice in Nonhuman Primates

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In 5 experiments, 4 monkeys and 1 ape chose between 2 food sources, each held in 1 of the experimenter's hands while he stood in front of a cage. When choosing between 2 sources of the same food that differed in amount, preference for the larger amount decreased as the size of each good proportionately increased. A second finding was that subjects were indifferent between a 2-food mixture and a single food that was part of the mixture if the single food was the preferred food of the mixture, a result suggesting the less preferred food had no value. Experiment 6 replicated these effects in 4 additional monkeys. These effects may be incompatible with previous theorizing about animal choice and may reflect a cognitive difference between nonhuman primates and humans.

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