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June 4 2013

Why Animals Compare the Present With the Past


Humans, like other animals, compare things. We care not only how well off we are, but whether we are better or worse off than others around us, or than we were last year. New research by scientists at the University of Bristol shows that such comparisons can give individuals an evolutionary advantage.

According to standard theory, the best response to current circumstances should be unaffected by what has happened in the past. But the Bristol study, published in the journal Science, shows that in a changing, unpredictable world it is important to be sensitive to past conditions.

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