Neuroethics Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

2-20-2018

Publication Source

PLoS ONE

Volume

13

Issue

3

Start Page

e0193055

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0193055

Abstract

Like humans, monkeys value information about sex and status, inviting the hypothesis that our susceptibility to these factors in advertising arises from shared, ancestral biological mechanisms that prioritize social information. To test this idea, we asked whether rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) show choice behavior that is similar to humans in response to sex and social status in advertising. Our results show that monkeys form preferences for brand logos repeatedly paired with images of macaque genitals and high status monkeys. Moreover, monkeys sustain preferences for these brand logos even though choosing them provided no tangible rewards, a finding that cannot be explained by a decision mechanism operating solely on material outcomes. Together, our results endorse the hypothesis that the power of sex and status in advertising emerges from the spontaneous engagement of shared, ancestral neural circuits that prioritize information useful for navigating the social environment. Finally, our results show that simple associative conditioning is sufficient to explain the formation of preferences for brand logos paired with sexual or status-based images.

Copyright/Permission Statement

© 2018 Acikalin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Date Posted:28 June 2018

This document has been peer reviewed.