Navigation Links
Researchers shed light on trading behavior in animals -- and humans
Date:6/8/2009

ATLANTA Humans, from ancient exchanges of food to modern day home mortgages, have bartered or traded to receive something that they couldn't achieve on their own. It's the basis of the economy, and it requires a leap of faith to believe that each party will receive a payoff in return for taking a risk.

When confidence breaks down, such as what happened during the recent collapse of the housing market, the economy slows.

The willingness to take risk is based at least in part on the reputation of trading partners and may be unique among humans. Our closest evolutionary relatives, chimpanzees, aren't very good at it, according to new research by scientists at Georgia State University's Language Research Center.

Georgia State's Sarah Brosnan, assistant professor of psychology, and research scientist Michael Beran conducted a study to see if chimpanzees spontaneously bartered foods among each other, using tokens which represented those foods. While results indicated that the animals were cognitively able to understand trade, without enforcement from human experimenters, trade disappeared.

Chimpanzees are known to trade services, such as grooming for food, but the ability does not seem to extend to trading commodities.

Most of the trading of services seems to occur between partners who interact a lot, and so are familiar with each others' behavior. The chimpanzees thus know whether the risk is likely to pay off, and most of the time, what's being traded is a relatively inexpensive commodity.

"If I spend five minutes grooming you, but you don't groom back, I haven't lost very much," Brosnan said. "But I might not want to trade a food that represents 10 or 20 percent of my calories for the day if I risk getting noting in return. If you don't complete the trade, I've lost a lot."

One thing that may separate humans from chimpanzees is our third-party reinforcement mechanisms, Brosnan said. While chimpanzees rely on personal interactions, humans have mechanisms to foster confidence in trade, such as legal or social penalties for those who don't follow through. At the simplest level, a critical aspect to confidence in trade is reputation reinforced through language, or gossip, which is something chimpanzees lack.

"I can say to someone, 'I gave this person a banana, and they were supposed to give me strawberries in return, but they didn't.' It's a powerful enforcer of reputation," Brosnan said.

The results of this research help scientists to better understand the roots of human economic behavior, Beran explained.

"We need to continue these kinds of tests with nonhuman animals to properly place human behavior in context with nonhuman behavior, and to understand the evolutionary roots of human economic decision making," he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jeremy Craig
jcraig@gsu.edu
404-413-1357
Georgia State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. University of Saskatchewan and Canadian Synchrotron researchers shed light on esophageal disease
2. Faculty of Translational Medicine boosts support for biomedical researchers
3. USC researchers present diabetes findings at American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions
4. MSU researchers receive $400,000 in first wave of stimulus funding
5. Researchers engineer metabolic pathway in mice to prevent diet-induced obesity
6. Elevated water temperature and acidity boost growth of key sea star species: UBC researchers
7. Penn researchers discover genetic risk factor for testicular cancer
8. Understanding plants overactive immune system will help MU researchers build better crops
9. Notre Dame researchers describe new tool for evaluating managed relocations
10. UCSD researchers make first direct observations of biological particles in high-altitude ice clouds
11. 3-D kidney atlas created for researchers and physicians
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/8/2017)... Mass., Feb. 7, 2017  Aware, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... today reported financial results for its quarter and year ended ... quarter of 2016 was $3.9 million compared to $6.9 million ... fourth quarter of 2016 was $0.6 million compared to $2.6 ... the fourth quarter of 2016 was $0.5 million, or $0.02 ...
(Date:2/8/2017)... , Feb. 7, 2017 Report Highlights ... billion by 2021 from $8.3 billion in 2016 at ... 2016 to 2021. Report Includes - An overview ... global market trends, with data from 2015 and 2016, ... 2021. - Segmentation of the market on the basis ...
(Date:2/7/2017)... York , February 7, 2017 ... ID Global Solutions Corporation [OTC: IDGS], ("Ipsidy" or the ... and electronic transaction processing services, is pleased to announce ... the Company. Effective January 31, 2017, ... Board of Directors, CEO and President.  An experienced payment ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... The Greater Gift Initiative, Inc , ... Compass Research . GGI's mission is to advance global health and highlight the ... need in honor of each clinical trial volunteer. The vision of GGI is to ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... SAN FRANCISCO , Feb. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... and Beyond Type 1, a not-for-profit advocacy and education ... announced a grant from Beyond Type 1 to support ... 1 and other insulin-requiring diabetes.  For ... stem cell-derived cell replacement therapies with a focus on ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... , ... February 22, 2017 , ... ... is has acquired Kendall Research Systems, LLC (KRS) clinical development program. ... develops neural interface technology for research and clinical applications. The terms of the ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... CINCINNATI , Feb. 22, 2017 Scientists ... drives inflammation and organ damage in Gaucher and maybe ... fewer risks and lower costs than current therapies. ... Children,s Hospital Medical Center , which also included investigators ... , report their data Feb. 22. The study ...
Breaking Biology Technology: