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Anim Cogn. 2012 Sep;15(5):963-9. doi: 10.1007/s10071-012-0522-x. Epub 2012 Jun 12.

Capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) let lesser rewards pass them by to get better rewards.

Author information

1
Language Research Center, Georgia State University, University Plaza, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA. jbramlett2@gmail.com

Abstract

Self-control is defined as foregoing an immediate reward to gain a larger delayed reward. Methods used to test self-control comparatively include inter-temporal choice tasks, delay of gratification tasks, and accumulation tasks. To date, capuchin monkeys have shown different levels of self-control across tasks. This study introduced a new task that could be used comparatively to measure self-control in an intuitive context that involved responses that required no explicit training. Capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) were given a choice between two food items that were presented on a mechanized, revolving tray that moved those foods sequentially toward the monkeys. A monkey could grab the first item or wait for the second, but was only allowed one item. Most monkeys in the study waited for a more highly preferred food item or a larger amount of the same food item when those came later, and they inhibited the prepotent response to grab food by not reaching out to take less-preferred foods or smaller amounts of food that passed directly in front of them first. These data confirm that the mechanisms necessary for self-control are present in capuchin monkeys and indicate that the methodology can be useful for broader comparative assessments of self-control.

PMID:
22689285
PMCID:
PMC3763236
DOI:
10.1007/s10071-012-0522-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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