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

The Alberta Gambling Research Institute provides grant funding to support peer-endorsed academic investigations into many aspects of gambling research. The contents, recommendations, and findings of the associated research reports, posted on this website, represent the views of the researcher(s).

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.

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

The Alberta Gambling Research Institute provides grant funding to support peer-endorsed academic investigations into many aspects of gambling research. The contents, recommendations, and findings of the associated research reports, posted on this website, represent the views of the researcher(s).

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 one publication and one research manuscript submitted.

Most importantly for the 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.

  • 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, Gardiner M, Bunselmeyer C, Dunn C, Wandia IN. (2020). A culturally maintained token economy in free-ranging monkey. 57th Annual Conference of the Animal Behavior Society – Virtual Meeting (July 28-30, 2020).
  • 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 (July 28-30, 2020).
  • 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.