The basic economic theory that people work harder to avoid losing money than they do to make money is shared by monkeys, suggesting this trait has a long evolutionary history, according to a Yale University study under review by the Journal of Political Economy.
This phenomenon, known as "loss aversion," refers to the tendency for people to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. "A large body of studies suggest that losses are more than twice as psychologically powerful as gains," said author M. Keith Chen, assistant professor at Yale School of Management.
In this study conducted with Venkat Lakshminaryanan, a research assistant in the Department of Psychology, and Laurie Santos, assistant psychology professor and director of the Capuchin Cognition Laboratory at Yale, tufted capuchin monkeys were given small disks to trade for rewards--apples, grapes or gelatin cubes. The researchers said capuchins are well-suited subjects for study since they are relatively large-brained primates, skilled problem solvers, and a close evolutionary neighbor to humans.
Jacqueline Weaver | EurekAlert!
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