Gambling in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta): The effect of cues signaling risky choice outcomes

Abstract

Preference for a larger-variable "risky" option over a smaller-reliable "safe" option often depends upon the likelihood that the risky option will deliver a sufficiently sized reward to have an equivalent or superior expected value. However, preference for the risky option has been shown to increase under conditions where informative stimuli signaling the outcome of a risky choice is included between the choice and the outcome and this risk-prone preference persists even when the risky option has a lower expected value than the alternative safe option. In the present study, rhesus macaques chose between a risky option and a safe option across two experimental phases to determine whether the outcome signal affected the degree of preference for the risky option. Overall, six out of seven macaques showed a greater preference for the risky option in the signaled condition than in the unsignaled condition. The macaques' risky choices were sensitive to the expected value of the risky option and the signaled condition produced a general increase in risky choices independently of the expected value of the risky outcome. Overall, these results are consistent with those obtained with other animals, and this may relate to a process where animals show a biased preference for "good news." This process may model some of the relevant factors that explain the psychology of gambling in humans.

Problem with this document? Please report it to us.