Feb. 3rd, Alexandra Rosati – Evolutionary economics: Mapping decision-making traits in chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans – Readings for the lecture: The Evolutionary Origins of Human Patience: Temporal Preferences in Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Human Adults, A fruit in the hand or two in the bush? Divergent risk preferences in chimpanzees and bonobos, and Chimpanzees and bonobos distinguish between risk and ambiguity. – Watch lecture
Abstract: Do humans have a unique set of cognitive abilities that shape our patterns of economic choice? Here I examine the psychological basis of decision-making in our closest extant relatives—chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus). I present evidence that human and nonhuman apes exhibit similar patterns of decision-making in several contexts, including temporal preferences, risk preferences, and susceptibility to framing effects. However, human choices are also modulated by currency: decisions about money are different from decisions about biologically-relevant rewards such as food. This suggests that human economic behaviors have evolutionary roots as far back as the last common ancestor with nonhuman apes, but humans may also have specialized psychological skills for dealing with novel types of rewards.
Bio: Alexandra Rosati is a Ph.D. candidate at Duke University in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. She received her B.A. in psychology from Harvard University. Her research examines the evolutionary origins of human cognition in other primates, including chimpanzees and bonobos, our closest phylogenetic relatives. She focuses on how ecology shapes cognitive strategies for decision-making, spatial memory, and other skills used in foraging contexts. In addition, she examines how foraging skills are co-opted in modern humans for use with different types of currencies.