2018/2019

Major Grants

Lottery Winnings and Entrepreneurship (#86)

Project Approved 2018-19

Dr. Barry Scholnick (Principal Investigator)
Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta
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Dr. Sahil Raina (Co-investigator)
Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta

Description

A large academic literature has examined the positive and negative impacts of lottery wins. This research project aims to exploit newly available data from Statistics Canada, as well as data on Canadian lottery winners, to examine the impact of lottery wins on entrepreneurial activity. Our aim is to provide evidence on two contradictory hypotheses; whether the lottery win allows for the financing of new, previously financially constrained, businesses, or alternatively, whether the lottery win encourages existing business owners to exit their business, and pursue greater leisure.

Timeframe: April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2021; extended to to March 31, 2022.

The first element of this project has been completed. It involves the matching of lottery winner data (provided by an anonymous Canadian lottery corporation), with Provincial Corporate Registry Data (provided by an Anonymous Canadian Provincial Government). This data has been used as the basis of a completed working paper (see details below).

The second element of this project entails the matching of the same lottery winner data with confidential Statistics Canada data on the tax files of individuals and corporations in Canada. However, because of the highly confidential nature of these tax files, they are only able to be accessed at the Statistics Canada building in Ottawa. Because of the Covid pandemic it has not been possible for the researchers to travel to Ottawa to undertake this research. It is hoped that the research will be conducted as soon as the possible, once the pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

None yet because no data analysis has yet been undertaken.

Vyacheslav Mikhed, Sahil Raina, and Barry Scholnick “To Incorporate or Not? The Role of Financial Constraints” University of Alberta School of Business, Working paper (2020).



Development of an Ecologically Valid Non-Human Primate Model of Gambling (#85)

Project Approved 2018-19

Dr. Jean-Baptiste Leca (Principal Investigator)
Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge
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Dr. Robert J. Williams (Co-principal Investigator)
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge
Google Scholar Profile

Dr. Elsa Addessi (Co-principal Investigator)
CNR, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies
Google Scholar Profile

Description

Promising animal models of gambling have recently been developed with many important findings deriving from this research. However, these models have some ecological weaknesses. For one, most of the experimental situations are decision-making tasks in risky environments rather than true ‘gambling’ analogues. Second, the activity occurs in social isolation, is induced, and both the response options and rewards are limited. The present program of research is intended to rectify these weaknesses by adapting a naturally occurring token-mediated bartering system in a free-ranging population of Balinese macaques. Four gambling tasks will closely mirror the conditions under which gambling occurs in humans and attempt to replicate findings from human research. In creating a more ecologically valid animal model of gambling, the present research will provide a more solid platform for conducting animal-based gambling research, as well as shed light on the generalizability of findings from less ecologically valid models.

Timeframe: November 1, 2018 to October 31, 2020; extended to April 30, 2022.

Monkey Gambling Study

Matthew Gardiner training a Balinese long-tailed macaque to operate a Plinko board as a proxy to test the “near-miss” effect (Nov. 2019, Uluwatu Temple, Bali, Indonesia).

The token exchange paradigm shows that a number of animal species are cognitively able to barter with humans: they can use objects as symbolic tools to request specific food rewards. Likewise, promising animal models of gambling have recently been developed with many important findings deriving from this research. Such studies provide insights into the mechanisms and evolution of economic behavior in humans, including bartering and gambling. However, the ecological validity of these lab-based experimental situations tends to be limited. The present program of research is intended to rectify these weaknesses by adapting a unique and naturally occurring token-mediated bartering system in a large and free-ranging population of Balinese macaques. These monkeys spontaneously and routinely engage in token-mediated bartering interactions with humans. These interactions occur in two phases: after stealing inedible and more or less valuable objects from humans (i.e., the token-robbing phase), the macaques appear to use them as tokens, by returning them to humans in exchange for food (i.e., the token/food bartering phase). Our field research aims to adapt this emerging economic system into a series of controlled bartering and gambling tasks. By doing so, we are addressing the need for a more ecologically valid primate model of trading (i.e., bartering and gambling) systems in humans.

During the first year of our project, we hired a team of three international students (namely Matthew Gardiner, Caleb Bunselmeyer, and Christian Dunn) to conduct the field experiments with the monkeys in Bali. After a first field research season (July-December 2019), they managed to shape the behavior of a large sample of monkeys and train them to successfully engage in complex token exchange interactions with human experimenters in a more controlled way than they spontaneously do with the local people. This is the first time bartering interactions have been implemented in free-ranging animals. These students also conducted a series of pre-tests of individual food preferences and token preferences (i.e., necessary baseline for future gambling tests). Our field observational and experimental data showed (1) age differences in robbing/bartering success, indicative of experiential learning, and (2) clear behavioral associations between value-based token possession and quantity or quality of food rewards rejected and accepted by subadult and adult monkeys, suggestive of robbing/bartering payoff maximization and economic decision-making. These first results led to two publications in three generalist and high-profiled journals with high Impact Factors. The first publication is a review article titled “Are the roots of human economic systems present in non-human primates?” published in February 2020 in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. The second publication is a research article titled “Social influence on the expression of robbing and bartering behaviours in Balinese long-tailed macaques” published in March 2020 in the journal Animal Cognition. The third publication is a research article titled “Acquisition of object-robbing and object/food-bartering behaviors: A culturally maintained token economy in free-ranging long-tailed macaques” published in January 2021 in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. It was published in a Special Issue titled “Existence and Prevalence of Economic Behaviours among Non-Human Primates”. These results were also be presented online at the 57th Annual Conference of the Animal Behavior Society – Virtual Meeting (July 28-30, 2020) and at the Alberta Gambling Research Institute 20th Annual Conference (April 27-29, 2021). Even more importantly for your AGRI-funded study, we laid the foundations for three gambling tasks (as outlined in our proposal) that will be resumed as soon as it is safe to return to Bali. This population-specific, prevalent, cross-generational, learned and socially influenced practice may be the first example of a culturally maintained token economy in free-ranging animals.

Due to a number of methodological limitations (e.g., relatively small samples of individually trained/tested, and laboratory-bred subjects), the external and ecological validities of the currently available token exchange and gambling paradigms in non-human animals could be put into question. This is not to say that the results obtained from published studies suffer from a complete lack of validity, or that the results may not be informative about some contexts pertaining to real-world human economic behaviors. However, the actual impact of conducting these experiments in these artificial conditions is unknown, and needs to be investigated.

By conducting, for the first time, a variety of experimentally-induced token-mediated bartering interactions with free-ranging and socially-living monkeys, our research project aims to significantly enhance our understanding of the cognitive, social, and cultural mechanisms underlying the evolutionary origins, developmental acquisition, and daily expression of economic behavior and currency use (including bartering and gambling). We are the first research team (1) to adapt the token exchange paradigm to a culturally maintained trading system existing in a large and free-ranging non-human primate population, and (2) to assess the ecological validity of primate economic models of human trading/gambling systems by comparing theoretical and field-/lab-based empirical findings. Our final results will allow us to critically examine the generalizability of findings from token exchange and gambling paradigms under different environmental conditions, and provide a solid platform for conducting externally and ecologically valid cross-species comparative economics research. If our results are consistent with most findings currently available in the literature pertaining to captive non-human primates, further support and validation will be given to existing primate models of bartering and gambling. If not, the validity and generalizability of these models will come into question and further experimental investigation will be required. By extending our research focus to economic decision-making under risky conditions (i.e., non-human primate models of gambling, with experimental tasks involving preference for low-probability/high-payoff rewards over high-probability/low-payoff ones), our project may ultimately lead to better ways of preventing and treating problem gambling in humans.

Leca J. B., Gunst N., Gardiner M., & Wandia, I. N. (2021). Acquisition of object robbing and object/food bartering: A culturally maintained token economy in free-ranging long-tailed macaques. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 376, 20190677 (Special Issue: “Existence and Prevalence of Economic Behaviours among Non-Human Primates”). https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0677
 

Addessi A., Beran M., Bourgeois-Gironde S., Brosnan S.,& Leca J. B. (2020). Are the roots of human economic systems present in non-human primates? Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 109, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.12.026
 

Brotcorne, F., Holzner, A., Jorge-Sales, L., Gunst, N., Hambuckers, A., Wandia, I. N. & Leca, J. B. (2020). Social influence on the expression of robbing and bartering behaviours in Balinese long-tailed macaques. Animal Cognition, 23, 311-326. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-019-01335-5

Leca JB, Gunst N, Bunselmeyer C, Gardiner M, Williams R, Addessi, A. (2021). Development of an ecologically valid non-human primate model of gambling. Alberta Gambling Research Institute 20th Annual Conference – Gambling in Canada: Current Research & Future Directions (held virtually). [VIDEO]

Leca JB, Gunst N, Gardiner M, Bunselmeyer C, Dunn C, Williams R, Wandia IN, Addessi E. (2020). A culturally maintained token economy in free-ranging monkey. 57th Annual Conference of the Animal Behavior Society – Virtual Meeting.  [VIDEO]

Aiempichitkijkarn N, McCowan B, Wandia IN, Leca JB. (2020). Trade-off in robbing behavior in free-ranging Balinese long-tailed macaques at the Uluwatu temple. 57th Annual Conference of the Animal Behavior Society – Virtual Meeting.

Leca JB. (2018). Object/food bartering: A culturally-maintained token economy in free-ranging long-tailed macaques. Invited talk at International Workshop: Economic Behaviors in Non-Human Primates, Florence, Italy.

TV/Video

GeoBeats Animals, USA (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
SciShow, USA (Mar. 2019)  [LINK]

Radio/Audio

BBC Sounds, UK (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
CBC Radio, The Current, Canada (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
CBC Radio-One, The Homestretch, Canada (Jun. 2016)  [LINK]
Moncrieff Show on Newstalk, Ireland (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
Parsing Science, USA (Mar. 2021)  [LINK]

Press

CBC, Radio-Canada, ICI Alberta, Canada (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
CBC News, Calgary, Canada (Apr. 2019)  [LINK]
CNN Travel, USA (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
CTV News, Canada (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
Daily Mail, UK (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
Kodami, Italy (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
Nature Briefing, UK (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
The Economist, UK (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
The Guardian, UK (Jan. 2021)  [LINK]
University of Lethbridge Research News, Canada (Apr. 2019)  [LINK]