Originally posted November 27, 2016
Here is an excerpt of the article/video:
Scholars like Kahneman, Thaler, and folks who think about the glitches of the human mind have been interested in the kind of animal work that we do, in part because the animal work has this important window into where these glitches come from. We find that capuchin monkeys have the same glitches we've seen in humans. We've seen the standard classic economic biases that Kahneman and Tversky found in humans in capuchin monkeys, things like loss aversion and reference dependence. They have those biases in spades.
That tells us something about how those biases work. That tells us those are old biases. They're not built for current economic markets. They're not built for systems dealing with money. There's something fundamental about the way we make sense of choices in the world, and if you're going to attack them and try to override them, you have to do it in a way that's honest about the fact that those biases are going to be way too deep.
If you are a Bob Cialdini and you're interested in the extent to which we get messed up by the information we hear that other people are doing, and you learn that it's just us—chimpanzees don't fall prey to that—you learn something interesting about how those biases work. This is something that we have under the hood that's operating off mechanisms that are not old, which we might be able to harness in a very different way than we would have for solving something like loss aversion.
What I've found is that when the Kahnemans and the Cialdinis of the world hear about the animal work, both in cases where animals are similar to humans and in cases where animals are different, they get pretty excited. They get excited because it's telling them something, not because they care about capuchins or dogs. They get excited because they care about humans, and the animal work has allowed us to get some insight into how humans tick, particularly when it comes to their biases.
The text/video is here.