Environmental enrichment affects suboptimal, risky, gambling-like choice by pigeons


Pigeons prefer a risky option with a low probability of a high payoff over a less risky option that results in more food. This finding is analogous to suboptimal human monetary gambling because in both cases there appears to be an overemphasis of the occurrence of the winning event and an underemphasis of the losing event. In the present research, we found that pigeons that were exposed to an enriched environment (a large cage with three other pigeons for 4 h a day) were less likely to show this suboptimal choice behavior compared with typically housed laboratory pigeons in a control group. These results have implications for the mechanisms underlying suboptimal choice by humans (e.g., problem gamblers), and they suggest that a enriched environment may allow for enhanced self-control.

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