Rhesus macaques form preferences for brand logos through sex and social status based advertising.

Published online

Journal Article

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Acikalin, MY; Watson, KK; Fitzsimons, GJ; Platt, ML

Published Date

  • 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 2

Start / End Page

  • e0193055 -

PubMed ID

  • 29462189

Pubmed Central ID

  • 29462189

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0193055

Language

  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States