Comparative Economics: Using Experimental Economic Paradigms to Understand Primate Social Decision-Making

  • Julia Watzek
  • Mackenzie F. Smith
  • Sarah F. Brosnan
Part of the Interdisciplinary Evolution Research book series (IDER)


One of the goals of studying primate social cognition is to better understand how decision-making is similar or different across primate species, including humans. Recently, researchers have begun to use paradigms from experimental economics that allow for direct comparisons across species using identical or highly similar experimental approaches. In many cases, paradigms used extensively in humans, such as the Assurance Game, Matching Pennies Game, and Prisoner’s Dilemma, have been adapted for other species in order to understand how different payoff structures influence decision-making. This approach has been utilized to explore not only individual differences and the influence of the social environment on behavior, but also the ecological relevance of such paradigms to the species in question. This comprehensive exploration allows for the most robust understanding of the evolution and development of social decision-making.


Game theory Cooperation Coordination Competition Inequity Comparative Social cognition 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Watzek
    • 1
  • Mackenzie F. Smith
    • 1
  • Sarah F. Brosnan
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Language Research CenterGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, Neuroscience Institute, Center for Behavioral NeuroscienceGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

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