Bonobos and chimpanzees exhibit human-like framing effects.
Humans exhibit framing effects when making choices, appraising decisions involving losses differently from those involving gains. To directly test for the evolutionary origin of this bias, we examined decision-making in humans' closest living relatives: bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). We presented the largest sample of non-humans to date (n = 40) with a simple task requiring minimal experience. Apes made choices between a 'framed' option that provided preferred food, and an alternative option that provided a constant amount of intermediately preferred food. In the gain condition, apes experienced a positive 'gain' event in which the framed option was initially presented as one piece of food but sometimes was augmented to two. In the loss condition, apes experienced a negative 'loss' event in which they initially saw two pieces but sometimes received only one. Both conditions provided equal pay-offs, but apes chose the framed option more often in the positive 'gain' frame. Moreover, male apes were more susceptible to framing than were females. These results suggest that some human economic biases are shared through common descent with other apes and highlight the importance of comparative work in understanding the origins of individual differences in human choice.