If You Play The Lottery You’re No Different Than A Chimp, Says Science

by 3 years ago

JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images


According to a recent study conducted at Duke University, if you play the lottery (Powerball, Mega Millions, etc) then you’re basically a primate. The study found that primates (chimpanzees, bonobos) are just as titillated by the prospect of winning the lottery as we humans, willing to roll the dice for a shot at hitting it big.

This week’s Powerball jackpot hit $564 MILLION DOLLARS, so I can’t fault you if you bought tickets for that, I bought them myself. But unlike many of you I’m perfectly comfortable with admitting I’m only a handful of genetic permutations away from a primate. All this study has changed for me is the next time that someone calls me out for having a gambling problem I can just blame it on genetics.

Yup, these are my not-too-distant brethren:

The study from Duke University concluded that the primates “will choose to gamble food if they think they have a chance of winning more.”

A study conducted by biologists at Duke University has shown that the primates – our closest living animal relatives – will choose to gamble food if they think they have a chance of winning more.

However, if they are offered the same odds but believe they might lose, then they will be less inclined to play.

Well, maybe me and the bonobos aren’t too similar after all. The fat kid I keep locked within my belly would never allow me to gamble with food…only the money I use to buy the food.

The apes were offered a choice between two snacks – a handful of nuts and some fruit.

In one series of trials, the researchers framed the fruit option positively – by offering one piece of fruit, with a 50 per cent chance of a surprise bonus piece.

In another series of trials, the researchers framed the fruit option negatively.

This time they offered two pieces of fruit rather than one, but if the apes chose the fruit, half the time they were shortchanged and received only one piece instead.

Chimps and bonobos were more likely to choose the fruit over the nuts when they were offered a smaller amount of fruit but sometimes got more, versus when they were initially offered more but sometimes got less – despite receiving equal average payoffs in both scenarios.

The preference for the option framed as a prize rather than a penalty was especially strong in males, the researchers found.

Dr Alexandra Rosati, a psychologist at Yale University who took part in the study, said: ‘I think this might be similar to how people respond to playing the lottery or gambling.

I take it all back, if I’m only gambling with pieces of fruit then I’m all for gambling. I’d play the lottery every damn day of my life if I got to use pieces of fruit as the currency.

And just look at that Chimp in the GIF above, that’s basically a hairier version of me. Hanging around and drinking all day, no responsibilities, just biding my time until my next trip to the casino…

For more on this study you can check out the publication on Biology Letters by clicking HERE.


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