Michael J. Beran, Ph.D.
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Last updated: 
September 1, 2021

 

 

Evans, T. A., & Beran, M. J. (2007). Delay of gratification and delay maintenance by rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Journal of General Psychology, 134, 199-216.

The authors tested the self-control of rhesus macaques by assessing if they could refrain from reaching into a food container to maximize the accumulation of sequentially delivered food items (a delay-maintenance task). Three different versions of the task varied the quantity and quality of available food items. In the first 2 versions, food items accumulated across the length of the trial until a monkey consumed the items. In the 3rd task, a single less-preferred food item preceded a single more-preferred food item. Some monkeys delayed gratification even with relatively long delays between deliveries of items. However, the data suggested that self-control, in the majority of tested individuals, was not significantly different across different task versions and that self-control by macaques was not as prevalent in these tasks as it is in chimpanzees and human children.

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