Humans aren't the only species to be influenced by spin. Our closest primate relatives are susceptible, too. For example, people are known to rate a burger as more tasty when it is described as "75 percent lean" than when it is described as "25 percent fat," even though that's the same thing. And they're more willing to recommend a medical procedure when they are told it has a 50 percent success rate than when they are told it has a 50 percent chance of failure—again, exactly the same thing. A Duke University study has found that positive and negative framing make a big difference for chimpanzees and bonobos too.
Released in the journal Biology Letters, the study is part of a larger body of research on how psychological factors shape behavior and decision-making. "People tend to prefer something more when you accentuate its positive attributes than when you highlight its negative attributes, even when the options are equal," said Christopher Krupenye, a doctoral student in evolutionary anthropology at Duke who co-authored the study with Duke researcher Brian Hare and Alexandra Rosati of Yale. "Historically, researchers thought these kinds of biases must be a product of human culture, or the way we're socialized, or our experience with financial markets. But the fact that chimps and bonobos, our closest living primate relatives, exhibit the same biases suggests they're deeply rooted in our biology," Krupenye said.
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