Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Monkey Prostitution

An experiment at Yale University to teach monkeys how to use money has had unexpected side effects, including the first case of monkey prostitution.

Something else happened during that chaotic scene, something that convinced Chen of the monkeys' true grasp of money. Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of money, after all, is its fungibility, the fact that it can be used to buy not just food but anything. During the chaos in the monkey cage, Chen saw something out of the corner of his eye that he would later try to play down but in his heart of hearts he knew to be true. What he witnessed was probably the first observed exchange of money for sex in the history of monkeykind. (Further proof that the monkeys truly understood money: the monkey who was paid for sex immediately traded the token in for a grape.)

Listen to Freakonomics author Steven Levitt talk about this experiment here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.