Stevens combined those results with those of scientists who performed similar experiments with other primates. He scoured primate-research literature to gather data on the biological characteristics of each species.
In addition to characteristics related to body mass, Stevens analyzed but found no correlation with two other hypotheses for patience: cognitive ability and social complexity.
"In humans, the ability to wait for delayed rewards correlates with higher performance in cognitive measures such as IQ, academic success, standardized test scores and working memory capacity," he wrote. "The cognitive ability hypothesis predicts that species with higher levels of cognition should wait longer than those with lower levels."
But Stevens found no correlation between patience levels and an animal's relative brain size compared to its body size, the measure he used to quantify cognitive ability.
Researchers also have argued that animals in complex social groups have reduced impulsivity and more patience to adapt to the social hierarchies of dominance and submission. But Stevens did not find correlations between species' social group sizes and their patience levels.
Stevens said he believes metabolic rates may be the driving factor connecting patience with body mass and related physical characteristics. Smaller animals tend to have higher metabolic rates.
"You need fuel and you need it at a
|Contact: Jeffrey R. Stevens|
University of Nebraska-Lincoln