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Like humans, monkeys too know how to spend money

Last Updated: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 10:37

London: Like humans, monkeys also know how to spend money and even know how to find a bargain, according to researchers.

Scientists from the Yale University carried out a series of tests with capuchin monkeys by giving them coin-like tokens to see if they would trade them for food items.

Academics discovered that the animals held on to the tokens as though they valued them, as well as learning how to exchange them for pieces of fruit and waiting during transactions.

According to the study, the group of capuchin monkeys even appeared to grasp the concept of “bargain hunting” by flocking to lower-priced pieces of fruit.

In research Professor Laurie Santos, from Yale University Department of Psychology, outlined how capuchin monkeys were given a “wallet” of 12 aluminium coin-like tokens.

The creatures were then given the option of two food options, in exchange for a food token.

The tests showed that the capuchins, including the alpha male of the group Felix, weighed up the options of both food items before obediently handing over a token in exchange for a piece of orange.

Describing the process where monkeys appeared to “buy” food, Santos added: “When you watch it, it looks like they’re contemplating, thinking about what they’re going to buy.

“What separates these capuchins from the scores of animals who have been trained to perform complex behaviours in exchange for food is the option presented by that second researcher,” Daily Mail quoted Santos as saying.

“The critical aspect of money is that it represents a choice. A coin is fundamentally different than, say, pressing a lever.”

“One of the things we never saw in the Monkey Market was savings—just like with our own species. They always just spent all their cash at once,” Santos added.

The study has been detailed in Mental Floss magazine.


First Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 10:37

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