A research carried out at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom has shown an interesting fact. The researchers point out that Rhesus monkeys are capable of wagering responsibly. This means that if they have at least two options, they are able to select one of them after comparison of both possible outcomes. In addition, Rhesus monkeys can assess the situation and wager only when this may lead to some benefits. The article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences deals with the results of their experiments that are also valid for humans.
It is obvious that humans firstly think of the best possible outcome of their deeds and choose the most rationally approved option, trying to avoid further negative consequences.
However, it is still poorly understood whether the animals are capable of doing the same thing. The researchers who had used Rhesus monkeys tried to make this clear. They investigated the ability of the animals to gamble by monitoring their behavior in certain situations.
The researches showed images of the different types of ladders on the PC screen. The laboratory animals had to select one of the displayed objects with the help of a joystick by clicking either on the one ladder or on the other. When they selected the correct ladder, they were encouraged with delicious blackcurrant juice. The next step of the research was an addition of risks, i.e. the researchers changed the distance between rungs in ladders. The bigger this distance was, the more juice was received by the experimental animals.
Then gaps between rungs were added. The different sizes of rewards were provided depending on the location of gaps. If they were below, the reward was higher. It was absolutely safe to select a ladder with equally distributed gaps between rungs.
It was found that monkeys were trying to select the ladders with the biggest rewards, despite the fact whether this is safe or not.
To draw the conclusion, we can say that Rhesus monkeys are capable of selecting gambling options, depending on the risks and available rewards.