Abstract # 4299 Poster # 77:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2012 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 9 (Gardenia) Poster Presentation


A CONSPECIFIC MODEL’S EFFECT ON A CAPUCHIN MONKEY’S (CEBUS APELLA) CHOICE BETWEEN A CONSISTENT FOOD OPTION AND A RISKY ONE.

T. Jeyaraj
University of Central Oklahoma, Department of Psychology, 100 N. University Drive, Edmond, Oklahoma 73034, USA
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     Existing research indicates that capuchin monkeys attend to their own rewards as well as to a partner’s. We investigated the conditions under which they may be socially influenced to change their choices. In Experiment-1, seven captive male monkeys chose between an option awarding a fixed amount of food every time, and one awarding double or nothing half the time. Six monkeys preferred the consistent choice. Binomial tests (alpha=.05) were used to assess significant preferences. The monkeys then watched a conspecific model receive a higher payoff for the risky choice, but when faced with the options again, most stayed with their baseline preferences. In Experiment-2, we used novel food containers to rule out the effect of prior experience with the options, expecting them to follow the model’s choice in the absence of information about the options. Results were varied: some preferred the model’s choice, some the consistent choice, and some showed no preference. In Experiment-3, the model consistently received twice as much food. Results were again, variable. Thus, while capuchin monkeys attend to rewards, they do not appear to keep track of these outcomes over a series of trials. However, they do seem to be distracted by the model. When faced with unfamiliar choices, some monkeys tend to follow the model’s choice indicating that prior experience can interfere with the influence of a social model.