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Contrafreeloading and the value of control over visual stimuli in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata)

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Contrafreeloading, which means that animals work for food even though identical food is freely available, has been reported in animals’ feeding behavior. This phenomenon has been assumed to be explained by the information primacy model, in which the information about a food resource as well as the food itself is valuable for animals. This study confirmed a contrafreeloading-like phenomenon using movies as rewards rather than food in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) and investigated the motivational system that exists behind contrafreeloading. In the experiment, movies that were presented dependently on subjects’ responses (earned movies) and movies that were presented automatically (free movies) were supplied simultaneously. The subjects continued to make responses to obtain the presentation of the earned movies although identical movies were available as free movies. These results provide the first evidence of contrafreeloading that occurs with movie rewards. The motivation maintaining the contrafreeloading behavior for movies may be control over the environment according to the competence theory.

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This work was financially supported by a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellowship (20-6611) to the author. It was also supported by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology grant #16002001 and #20002001 to Tetsuro Matsuzawa, and #19300091 to Masaki Tomonaga, and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science-gCOE Programs A06 and D07 of Kyoto University and HOPE project of the Primate Research Institute. I wish to thank Drs. T. Matsuzawa, M. Tomonaga, M. Tanaka, N. Morimura, and Y. Ueno for their valuable comments. I am grateful to the staff members of the Center for Human Evolution Modeling Research, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, for their management of the subjects’ health. I also thank various students of the Institute for cooperating in preparing the movie stimuli. This work is a part of the author’s Ph. D. thesis. This work complied with the laws of Japan, and housing and feeding conditions were in accordance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Primates produced by the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University (2nd ed., 2002).

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Correspondence to Tadatoshi Ogura.

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Ogura, T. Contrafreeloading and the value of control over visual stimuli in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). Anim Cogn 14, 427–431 (2011).

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