chimpanzees

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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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One of the seminal findings of behavioral economics is the endowment effect, in which humans show a tendency to value a good they have just come to possess more than the maximum price they would have paid immediately before they obtained it. Turns out the endowment effect may be a simian tendency too. (Ok, that’s all the appropriate synonyms we know, from now it’s chimpanzees.)

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