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A follow-up paper by two of the researchers involved in the chimpanzee endowment effect experiment offers an evolutionary explanation for its occurrence. From the abstract:

Drawing on evolutionary biology, this Article provides a new theory of the endowment effect. Briefly, we hypothesize that the endowment effect is an evolved propensity of humans and, further, that the degree to which an item is evolutionarily relevant will affect the strength of the endowment effect. The theory generates a novel combination of three predictions. These are: (1) the effect is likely to be observable in many other species, including close primate relatives; (2) the prevalence of the effect in other species is likely to vary across items; and (3) the prevalence of the endowment effect will increase or decrease, respectively, with the increasing or decreasing evolutionary salience of the item in question.

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Reader Phil thinks the bar scene in the Big Apple bites. But instead of just griping, the former physics major with a passion for tackling global poverty and development, offers three potential nudges to improve mingling.

I’ve become frustrated with the bar scene in New York City — everyone goes out professing the intention to meet new people (especially the opposite sex) but usually ends up standing with friends in the corner scoping out the scene.

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