Economic Games


This research project is conducted in collaboration with Sarah Brosnan (Georgia State) and Bart Wilson (Chapman University) and is concerned with understanding how apes, monkeys, and humans engage in strategic economic interactions.  All species play cooperative games that allow us to verify the hypothesis that nonhuman primates and humans share basic economic decision making strategies which take both partner identity and agency, and the potential reward, into account. We have designed more intuitive “hands-on” versions of classic economic experimental tasks which involve exchanges with human experimenters or cooperative barpull paradigms, as well as computerized versions that involve joystick computer tasks. A secondary goal of the project is to use these two methodologies to clarify how nonhuman primates comprehend the “partner” with whom they interact on a computer screen. This research will also help clarify the similarities and differences between nonhuman primates and humans with respect to cooperation in a strategic game. It is vital to understand these interactions in both nonhuman primate and humans in order to more properly place nonhuman behavior in context with human behavior and to understand the roots from which human economic decision making emerged.  This research is supported by the National Science Foundation (SES-0729244, SES-1123897, SES-1658867, and SES-1425216).

Selected Related Publications:

Brosnan, S. F., Price, S. A., Leverett, K., Prétôt, L., Beran, M. J., & Wilson, B. J. (2017). Human and monkey responses in a symmetric game of conflict with asymmetric equilibria. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 142, 293-306.

Parrish, A. E, Brosnan, S. F., & Beran, M. J. (2015). Capuchin monkeys alternate play and reward in a dual computerized task. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 2, 334-347. Click here for full paper.

Parrish, A. E., Brosnan, S. F., Wilson, B. J., & Beran, M. J. (2014).  Differential responding by rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and humans (Homo sapiens) to variable outcomes in the Assurance game. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 1, 215-229. Click here for full paper.