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Human/Capuchin Parallels Revisited

What’s the most embarrassing thing about human decision-making? It’s not that we make cognitive mistakes, says Yale cognitive psychologist Laurie Santos, in this recent TED talk. It’s that we seem doomed by our biology to make the same predictable mistakes over and over. Take finance: we tend to play it safe in situations where we stand to make gains. But faced with the risk of a substantial loss, we get nervous and opt for even riskier strategies in the vain hope we can avoid losses altogether. It’s irrational, and it seems evolutionarily hard-wired into our brains. Santos says that makes us — as Freakonomics readers will have already guessed — just like capuchin monkeys. [%comments]