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Publication Detail
Reduced risk-seeking in chimpanzees in a zero-outcome game
  • Publication Type:
    Working discussion paper
  • Authors:
    Keupp S, Grueneisen S, Ludvig EA, Warneken F, Melis A
  • Publication date:
  • Status:

A key component of economic decisions is the integration of information about reward outcomes and probabilities in selecting between competing options. In many species, risky choice is influenced by the magnitude of available outcomes, probability of success, and the possibility of extreme outcomes. Chimpanzees are generally regarded to be risk seeking. In this study we examined two aspects of chimpanzees’ risk preferences: First, whether setting the value of the non-preferred outcome of a risky option to zero changes chimpanzees’ risk preferences, and second, whether individual risk preferences are stable across two different measures. Across two experiments, we found chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes, n = 23) as a group to be risk-neutral to risk-avoidant with highly stable individual risk preferences. We discuss how the possibility of going empty-handed might reduce chimpanzees’ risk seeking relative to previous studies. This malleability in risk preferences as a function of experimental parameters and individual differences raises interesting questions about whether it is appropriate or helpful to categorize a species as a whole as risk-seeking or risk-avoidant.

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