Monkey Economy

Monkeys learn to use money – what can we learn?

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR of Economics Keith Chen taught a bunch of monkeys to use money.

What he discovered was that not only could the monkeys learn to understand the value of money and how to use it, they were also very good at changing their consumption behaviour when prices changed. 

This experiment provided four great insights:

  1. money is a tool which is easy to learn how to use
  2. money stores value, and can be exchanged for other things – a coin for jello, or a coin for sex
  3. trading with money encourages selfishness (what you may have done out of a sense of curiosity, kindness or passion, money incentivises you to withhold until you get paid)
  4. once its value is understood, throwing money around may drive you crazy. For example, excessive consumption causes jealousy which begets more consumption; handing money out for free encourages laziness

What are your thoughts on the monkey economy?

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