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J Gen Psychol. 2007 Apr;134(2):199-216.

Delay of gratification and delay maintenance by rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).

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Language Research Center, Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Gen Psychol. 2007 Jul;134(3):331-2.


The authors tested the self-control of rhesus macaques by assessing if they could refrain from reaching into a food container to maximize the accumulation of sequentially delivered food items (a delay-maintenance task). Three different versions of the task varied the quantity and quality of available food items. In the first 2 versions, food items accumulated across the length of the trial until a monkey consumed the items. In the 3rd task, a single less-preferred food item preceded a single more-preferred food item. Some monkeys delayed gratification even with relatively long delays between deliveries of items. However, the data suggested that self-control, in the majority of tested individuals, was not significantly different across different task versions and that self-control by macaques was not as prevalent in these tasks as it is in chimpanzees and human children.

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