Capuchin monkeys are not fooled by Veblen goods

From Rhia Catapano,

…Using a capuchin population previously trained in a token market, we explored whether monkeys used price as an indicator of value across four experiments. Although monkeys demonstrated an understanding of which goods had which prices (consistently shifting preferences to cheaper goods when prices were increased), we observed no evidence that such price information affected their valuation of different kinds of goods.

In other words, the monkeys don’t think that the more expensive goods are more valuable per se.  Yet the monkeys are judged cognitively deficient for getting the problem right!:

These results suggest that human pricing effects may involve more sophisticated human-unique cognitive capacities, such as an understanding of market forces and signaling.

Hat tip goes to Diane Coyle.


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