Decision-Making: Not Just for Humans

Question: Are all animals capable of making choices, or just \r\nthose with a higher cognitive ability?

Sheena Iyengar: \r\n What we share with animals is a desire for choice.  It’s a desire to \r\nhave control over our life and a desire to live and use choice as a way \r\nin which we can facilitate our ability to live and that is something we \r\nreally were born with.  You know, whether it be humans or animals. So \r\neven humans–before we can speak or we can understand a baby’s \r\ncognition–they’re already showing us signs that they want choice.  You \r\nknow, you take a little infant and you turn on the music mobile on their\r\n crib and you find that if you give them a music mobile which turns on \r\nautomatically versus a music mobile in which–if by chance their little \r\nlegs or their little hands accidentally touches it–turns on they’re so \r\nmuch more excited if by chance it turns on because they touched it, so \r\nthat desire for control over their environment is… really appears from \r\nvery early on and if you look at children’s first words, “no, yes.”  My \r\nchild’s first word was "more," but and it’s all about, “I want.”  “I’m \r\ngoing to tell you what I want and what I don’t want.”  It’s about my \r\ndesire to express my preferences.  And that is really innate.  Now to \r\nwhat…?  How we teach people to make choices and the things they’re going\r\n to make choices over–that is culturally learned. 

Animals, like humans, want to exert control over their lives with choices. Humans show this desire from a young age.

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