Chimps Can Control Urges by Reading Magazines

Chimps are impulsive animals - they can suddenly throw a hissy fit with loud screeches and throwing things. But recently, a new study suggests that they also know how to control their urges and avoid temptation: by reading National Geographics!

The researchers tested four adult chimpanzees with a candy dispenser, which steadily delivered enticing sweets every 30 seconds. As soon as the apes reached to get the accumulated candy, the dispenser stopped delivering any more. This meant that if the chimps resisted their impulses, they would earn a greater award.

Here's where the self-distraction came into play.

The chimpanzees also were sometimes given a set of toys, such as magazines, toothbrushes and rubber tubes. They were significantly better at coping with temptation when they could entertain themselves with toys.

"The magazines included some National Geographic, Entertainment Weekly, and Atlanta food and wine circulars, among others. The chimps would slowly page through the magazines, probably looking at the pictures—research suggests that they perceive pictures as real objects like humans do," Evans told LiveScience. "They used the toothbrushes as we would. They appeared to enjoy the bristle texture in their mouth and on their teeth."

Without toys, the chimps only held out for six-and-a-half minutes on average to get about 11 candies, but with toys, they waited 50 percent longer on average to get roughly 17 candies.

Link - Thanks Marilyn Terrell!

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The problem is that Behavioral Science tends to be species specific. Although there is a limited amount of overlap, so that in some cases it can be said that if species A does X under Stimulus Y, then Species B can be expected to do the same, in most higher functions (reasoning, emotion, social interaction) studying Chimps and then applying those results to human smacks of Anthropomorphism.

So...I don't really see where the payback is for the money spent on finding out that chimps can be distracted by shiny pictures and therefore end up with more candy (doesn't really apply much to real chimp life or anything at all in human life - although with American public education in the dumpster, perhaps the distracted by shiny photo's info could be used).
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while i agree that cancer should be on the short list for researchers - there are things to be learned from other studies. it's not just about chimps and treats - it's about the way their brains work. you never know when a connection is going to be made between one thing and another. as long as the animals are well cared for and, of course, not harmed, i think it's worthwhile to do other studies....JMO.
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