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Beran et al. (2012) reported that capuchin monkeys closely matched the performance of humans in a quantity judgment test in which information was incomplete but a judgment still had to be made. In each test session, subjects first made quantity judgments between two known options. Then, they made choices where only one option was visible. Both humans and capuchin monkeyswere guided by past outcomes, as they shifted from selecting a known option to selecting an unknown option at the point at which the known option went from being more than the average rate of return to less than the average rate of return from earlier choices in the test session. Here, we expanded this assessment of what guides quantity judgment choice behavior in the face of incomplete information to include manipulations to the unselected quantity.We manipulated the unchosen set in two ways: first, we showed the monkeys what they did not get (the unchosen set), anticipating that “losses” would weigh heavily on subsequent trials in which the same known quantity was presented. Second, we sometimes gave the unchosen set to another monkey, anticipating that this social manipulation might influence the risk-taking responses of the focal monkey when faced with incomplete information. However, neither manipulation caused difficulty for the monkeys who instead continued to use the rational strategy of choosing known sets when they were as large as or larger than the average rate of return in the session, and choosing the unknown (riskier) set when the known set was not sufficiently large. As in past experiments, this was true across a variety of daily ranges of quantities, indicating that monkeys were not using some absolute quantity as a threshold for selecting (or not) the known set, but instead continued to use the daily average rate of return to determine when to choose the known versus the unknown quantity.


This article was originally published in the journal Frontiers in Comparative Psychology. Copyright © 2012 Beran, Perdue, Parrish and Evans. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

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