Dynamic Inconsistency in Great Apes

32 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2021

See all articles by Laura Salas-Morellón

Laura Salas-Morellón

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

London School of Economics; Ikerbasque Foundation UPV/EHU

Josep Call

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Date Written: July 15, 2021

Abstract

This paper studies the nature of temporal preferences in humans by studying their basic structure in our closest living primate relatives. We investigate whether intertemporal choices in three great ape species are dynamically consistent. We present orangutans (Pongo abelii ), bonobos (Pan paniscus) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) with several series of choices among different quantities of food available after different delays. When apes can select either a reward that is available immediately or one reward three times bigger available three minutes later, they tend to act impatiently choosing the sooner, smaller reward. They also show high within-group variability. However, when a six-minute delay is added to both alternatives, apes tend to act patiently and show a more homogeneous behavior. Additional tests with constant size or delay suggest that participants trade-off the size and delay of the rewards in a temporal horizon extended up to several minutes. These results represent the first time that dynamic inconsistency is documented in our closest living primate relatives. As such, they are consistent with the hypothesis that time-inconsistent preferences are part of our evolutionary heritage.

Keywords: Intertemporal Choice, Discounting, Apes, Cognition.

JEL Classification: D01, D91.

Suggested Citation

Salas, Laura and Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio and Call, Josep, Dynamic Inconsistency in Great Apes (July 15, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3887401 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3887401

Laura Salas

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ignacio Palacios-Huerta (Contact Author)

London School of Economics ( email )

Dept. of Management
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Ikerbasque Foundation UPV/EHU ( email )

Josep Call

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
Bonn, 53113
Germany

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