Why do animals know the economic theory?
We can rule out that E4 or the other rats of one of the above quoted textbooks have read, and even if they read it - can you understand it? And even if they understand it, will they apply it? Rather not. The household theory sometimes even begs first semesters, and they have at least tutorials.
Or take Keith Chen's capuchin monkey: Chen brings the idea of money to his charges. They learn that in exchange for coins, so-called tokens, you get food. The lab assistant shows a hand with food and reaches out with an empty hand - place a token in the assistant's hand and get the food.
Can monkeys read books?
Now you can do all sorts of experiments and see how the monkeys behave when you change their income - the number of tokens you give them - or when you change the prices for certain foods. The conclusion of Chen: Monkeys know the price theory of economists. And follow them. They respond to price changes, income increases, and changes in the rewards they receive for their money. Bet that Keith Chen's enterprising monkeys are not reading economics books?
What sounds funny is a serious question that goes deeper than the idea that rats do not read books: Economists are accused of the fact that their models - including the models of household theory - are unrealistic, that people do not behave differently ,
A survival strategy
And now a few rats - with pigeons you can also prove this - come to the script, which sketches the unrealistic textbooks. Something does not fit here. And the solution lies in the wrong understanding of how science and how people function. What does the shopping queen do, what makes E4, what do the rats do?
They try to get the best out of their scarce resources. This sounds selfish, but it is vital in an evolutionary sense: in a cold world of scarcity one has to keep as much as possible to survive. For the shopping queen this task is fun, for the teenager luxury, for E4 survival. He who is wrongly allocating his means, his powers, is sifted by nature.
The hunts-shopping-queen dilemma
Let's put the Shopping Queen experiment from the lab into the wild. Are there similar problems? Why, surely. Every hunter who crosses his territory to make prey or to gather berries or roots is faced with the same problem as our rats, teenagers and shopping queens: he has limited resources - especially strength and time - and must with these limited resources maximize their energy intake, make prey, find food so that it can survive.
The classic shopping queen dilemma. Rats, pigeons, animals, people, teenagers, shopping celebrities - they all optimize their behavior, not because they've read it in economics textbooks or because they're told to behave like that - they behave that way, because evolution and tradition taught them.
Dictatorship of scarcity - no place for spendthrift
And whoever does not behave like this is removed from the blueprint of life. There is no room for extravagance on the earth.
And that's not just for shopping and shopping, for energy drinks and cola or root beer and Tom Collins - almost all areas of life bow to the dictatorship of scarcity and encounter it with economic behavior. Whether animal or human. Darwin does not allow for any species that is wasteful.
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