Animal Cognition

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 1019–1022

Suboptimal choice by dogs: when less is better than more

Short Communication

DOI: 10.1007/s10071-014-0735-2

Cite this article as:
Pattison, K.F. & Zentall, T.R. Anim Cogn (2014) 17: 1019. doi:10.1007/s10071-014-0735-2


The less is more effect, an example of an affect heuristic, can be shown in humans when they give greater value to a set of six baseball cards in perfect condition, than to the same set of six perfect cards together with three additional cards each with some value but in fair condition. A similar effect has been reported in monkeys which will eat both grapes and cucumbers but prefer grapes, when they prefer a single grape over a single grape plus a slice of cucumber. In the present experiment, we tested the less is more effect with a nonprimate but social species, dogs. We used dogs that would eat a slice of carrot and a slice of cheese but preferred the cheese. When we then gave them a choice between a slice of cheese and a slice of cheese plus a slice of carrot, most dogs preferred the single slice of cheese. Thus, the less is more effect appears to occur in several species.


Affect heuristicLess is moreIncentive motivationValueChoiceDogs

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA