Animal Cognition

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 429–434 | Cite as

Environmental enrichment affects suboptimal, risky, gambling-like choice by pigeons

  • Kristina F. Pattison
  • Jennifer R. Laude
  • Thomas R. ZentallEmail author
Original Paper


Pigeons prefer a risky option with a low probability of a high payoff over a less risky option that results in more food. This finding is analogous to suboptimal human monetary gambling because in both cases there appears to be an overemphasis of the occurrence of the winning event and an underemphasis of the losing event. In the present research, we found that pigeons that were exposed to an enriched environment (a large cage with three other pigeons for 4 h a day) were less likely to show this suboptimal choice behavior compared with typically housed laboratory pigeons in a control group. These results have implications for the mechanisms underlying suboptimal choice by humans (e.g., problem gamblers), and they suggest that a enriched environment may allow for enhanced self-control.


Environmental enrichment Suboptimal choice Gambling Self-control Pigeons 



This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant 63726 and by National Institute of Child Health and Development Grant 60996.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristina F. Pattison
    • 1
  • Jennifer R. Laude
    • 1
  • Thomas R. Zentall
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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