, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 168-174

Self-control in the monkeymacaca fascicularis


Two experiments tested two cynomolgus monkeys’ self-control—choice of a longer, more delayed reinforcer over a shorter, less delayed reinforcer. In Experiment 1, subjects exhibited significant selfcontrol in a procedure in which reinforcer amounts and delays were held constant throughout a condition. In Experiment 2, subjects exhibited significantly greater sensitivity to variation in reinforcer amount than to variation in reinforcer delay in a procedure in which the reinforcer delay associated with the self-control alternative was adjusted until each macaque was indifferent between the two alternatives. Both experiments indicated that, in laboratory paradigms in which humans show self-control and pigeons and rats show impulsiveness, macaques show self-control. These results are inconsistent with the hypothesis that species differences in self-control are a function of language ability or of specific types of prior training. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that species differences in self-control are related to the ratio of brain size to body weight (a possible indicator of general cognitive ability) or to shared phylogeny.