Darby Proctor, a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology, is currently conducting research on the origins of irrational decision-making in humans by examining gambling behavior in non-human primates. Proctor wonders what possible “selective pressures” could have existed in order for gambling behavior to evolve as a “necessity” in some situations. Was gambling behavior beneficial to survival?
In her “casino” in the Cebus Lab, Proctor has set up gambling tasks for the chimpanzees and monkeys. Interestingly, she is setting up similar tasks for human children and undergraduates — and plans to compare the behavior between the different species.
To learn more about the evolution of decision-making and economic behaviors across the primate order, see the publications that the Cebus Lab, under the direction of Dr. Sarah Brosnan, has produced in recent years.
The GSU library also offers some resources on the topic:
Maldonado, M. (2010). Decision making: Towards an evolutionary psychology of rationality. Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press.
Dhami, M. K., Schlottmann, A., & Waldmann, M. (2011). Judgment and decision making as a skill: Learning, development, and evolution. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.