Sexy Ads Targeting Capuchin Monkeys in the Name of Science

Keith Olwell and Elizabeth Kiehner are both New York-based ad execs who attended a TED Talk in 2008 revealing the economic sense of capuchin monkeys. The pair teamed up with Laurie Santos, the Yale University primatologist who gave the TED talk, to develop an experiment that tests the effects of advertising on monkeys. The solution? Branded capuchin food.
The objective, says Olwell, is to see if advertising can make brown capuchins change their behaviour. The team will create two brands of food – the team is considering making two colours of jello – specifically targeted at brown capuchins, one supported by an ad campaign and the other not.

How do you advertise to monkeys? Easy: create a billboard campaign that hangs outside the monkeys' enclosure.

"The foods will be novel to them and are equally delicious," Olwell says. Brand A will be advertised and brand B will not. After a period of exposure to the campaign, the monkeys will be offered a choice of both brands.

Santos plans to kick off the experimental campaign in the coming weeks. "If they tend toward one and not the other we'll be witnessing preference shifting due to our advertising," Olwell says.

But what kind of advertising might a capuchin--without language, pop culture, or an appreciation for human aesthetics--find appealing? The answer is simple, if wholly unrelated to the food in question:
One billboard shows a graphic shot of a female monkey with her genitals exposed, alongside the brand A logo. The other shows the alpha male of the capuchin troop associated with brand A.

Olwell expects brand A to be the capuchins' favoured product. "Monkeys have been shown in previous studies to really love photographs of alpha males and shots of genitals, and we think this will drive their purchasing habits."

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FINALLY!!! I have been wanting to do this experiement with chimpanzees for at least 12 years but could never find anyone to fund or ethically support it. I will be so excited if the results are significant.
The experiment design is almost exactly what I had planned, too, except I was going to see if chimps could be advertised into preferring less food in a red (or circular or smaller) bowl compared to more food in a blue (or square or larger) bowl, just because the first bowl was associated with sexy lady chimps and alpha male chimps in videos that they'd been shown. I guess the experiment with capuchins is really step one, to see if advertising even works, and then seeing if you can make chimps perform the sort of counterproductive behaviours that humans do under the influence of advertising, in my planned experiment, would be step two.
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I didn't realize we were talking about self-awareness in other animals. In which case, primates tend to fare best next to dolphins, then birds, especially corvids. I think the dot-test is supposed to test for a metacognitive awareness-of-being-aware, as opposed to the kind of self-awareness that is implied and not made explicit. If you prick a nematode it will react indicating an 'awareness' of itself being pricked, but this isn't what is meant by self-conscious. Otherwise, sorry, I'm not sure I follow the conversation anymore.
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Anyone who's seen the lineups outside of stores for the latest "must-have" electronic craze, knows the effect of advertising on monkeys. We have enough mindless consumers already, thanks, and we don't need yet more offensive junk science. Apparently there isn't enough "consumer confidence" to appease the titans of commerce, they are training our replacements.
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Nothing about the pigeon, though, Ryan? Come on, you can do better than that.

The mirror test was devised in 1970 by Gordon Gallup Jr, to determine if an animal possesses or lacks the ability to recognize itself in a mirror.

I highly recommend:
"Self-Awareness" in the Pigeon, by ROBERT EPSTEIN, ROBERT P. LANZA and B. F. SKINNER
Science, 8 May 1981: Vol. 212 no. 4495 pp. 695-696

The abstract of which is: "Each of three pigeons used a mirror to locate a spot on its body which it could not see directly. Although similar behavior in primates has been attributed to a self-concept or other cognitive process, the present example suggests an account in terms of environmental events."

There is no indication that it is a Capuchin pigeon, however.
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Well, according to this paper women by-and-large are explicitly turned-off by explicitly sexual ads, but if the ad conveys a commitment from man to woman, the effect is reversed. In addition, there is a subset of women who are aroused by explicit sexual stimuli. Then it is no surprise to find that advertising agencies that are promoting products aimed at women generally focus on intimacy and relational commitment (i.e. Jewelry Ads).

"For instance, one study examined reactions to
a perfume ad that featured overt and explicit sexual content
(i.e., a couple shown in an intercourse-like position). In
comparison with a control perfume ad with milder content
(i.e., an attractive female model), both men and women
found the explicitly sexual ad to be unethical and manipulative,
and reported equivalently negative attitudes toward
the ad (Mittal and Lassar 2000). Other research corroborated
the notion that, irrespective of gender, the explicit and inappropriate
use of sex typically induces unfavorable reactions
(e.g., Peterson and Kerin 1977; Simpson, Horton, and
Brown 1996).

Although the premise that gratuitous sexual appeals produce
negative reactions because of perceptions of unethical
and manipulative practices is straightforward and logical, it
also presupposes a deliberative, cognitive mechanism. Past
research has found that the process of judging whether a
persuasive message violates ethical norms requires cognitive
effort (Campbell and Kirmani 2000). Yet consumers typically
spend little time and effort when viewing an ad (Burnett
and Moriarty 1998; Kassarjian 1977; Sengupta and
Gorn 2002). It is important, therefore, to understand reactions
to inappropriate sex appeals under “thin slice” processing
(Ambady, Bernieri, and Richeson 2000), such as
when consumers view ads under constrained cognitive capacity.

Men tend to adopt a
relatively recreational orientation, an approach that emphasizes
physical gratification and views sex as an end in itself
(Cohen and Shotland 1996; Hill 2002). In contrast, women
tend to adopt a relationship-based orientation to sexuality,
an approach that emphasizes the importance of intimacy and
commitment in a sexual relationship (Birnbaum et al. 2006;
Hill 2002; Malamuth 1996; Schachner and Shaver 2004).

A socialization-based account arrives at a similar conclusion,
albeit from a different perspective. Socialization influences
are almost without exception biased toward promoting
a recreational attitude toward sex in men but a
relationship orientation in women (Baumeister and Twenge
2002; Schwartz and Rutter 1998). For instance, sexual behaviors
that are primarily linked with physical gratification
(e.g., masturbation) are subjected to more parental discouragement
and condemnation for daughters than sons
(Schwartz and Rutter 1998).

Women shirk
emotionless sex perhaps because their experience of sex is
saturated with emotional and relational implications. One
in-depth study showed that women experience the act of
sexual intercourse as laden with relationship-centered
thoughts and feelings (Birnbaum and Laser-Brandt 2002;
also Birnbaum et al. 2006).

women reported equally high intentions of engaging
in sex as did men when either of these conditions was present.
When neither signal was present (i.e., a casual dating
relationship or partner’s behavior lacked an emotional connotation),
the typical gender difference prevailed such that
women reported a lower likelihood of engaging in sex than
did men.

In summary, the extant research on gender differences in
sexual motivations suggests that for both evolutionary and
socialization-based reasons women will have relatively unfavorable
feelings about sexual behavior that is not linked
with relationship commitment. When sexual behavior can
be seen in terms of relational commitment, however,
women’s attitudes about sex would be expected to improve.

The key hypothesis was that women’s attitudes toward
the ad would be more positive for the sexual ad when it
was positioned as a gift than when the same ad did not
feature a gift positioning, whereas attitudinal improvement
was not expected among men. Consistent with these predictions,
a 2#2 analysis of variance (ANOVA)with gender
and sexual ad positioning (gift versus nongift) revealed a
significant interaction of gender and sexual ad positioning
(F(1, 84) p 7.72, p p .007; fig. 1). No other significant
effects were found. For female participants, contrasts revealed
more positive attitudes when the watch in the ad was
positioned as a gift than when it was not (M p 4.67, gift
M p 3.83; F(1, 84) p 4.33, p p .039). As predicted, nongift
attitude improvement was not found among men—in fact,
an interesting reversal was obtained, with men preferring
the nongift ad to the gift ad (M p 4.18, M p 5.02; gift nongift
F(1, 84) p 4.24, p p .041). In terms of a between-gender
comparison, our results for the nongift sexual ad replicated
past findings (Sengupta and Dahl 2008) in that men’s reactions
were more positive than women’s (F(1, 84) p
8.88, p p .004). Crucially, however, this gender difference
vanished when the sexual ad featured a gift positioning
(p p .238).

In one study, Sengupta and Dahl (2008)
found that sexually liberal women showed a strong preference
for a sexual ad versus a nonsexual ad. Recent work
by Reichert, LaTour, and Kim (2007) found that women’s
sexual self-schemas—that is, a woman’s perception of herself
as a sexual person—had a positive influence on attitudes
and affective reactions to sexual ads. These constructs are
worthy avenues for future research to test if and when
women’s reactions to sexually explicit ads mirror men’s.
Indeed, this general line of inquiry would be consistent with
findings in sex research that suggest that personality variables
can exert a significant influence on attitudes toward
uncommitted sex—for instance, socially dominant, more extroverted
women tend to be less restricted in their attitudes
toward sex (Gangestad and Simpson 2000)."
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