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Intertemporal Choice and Its Anomalies

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Front. Appl. Math. Stat. | doi: 10.3389/fams.2018.00049

Ecological validity of impulsive choice: consequences of profitability-based short-sighted evaluation in the producer-scrounger resource competition

  • 1Department of Social Psychology, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, The University of Tokyo, Japan
  • 2National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States
  • 3Department of Biology, Faculty of Science,, Hokkaido University, Japan

Results of intertemporal choice paradigm have been accounted for mostly by psychological terms such as temporal discounting of subjective value. Inability to wait for delayed gratification (choice impulsiveness, as opposed to self-control) is often taken to represent violated rationality. If viewed from foraging ecology, however, such impulsiveness can be accountable as adaptive adjustments to requirements in nature. First, under the circumstance where foragers stochastically encounter food items, the optimal diet-menu model suggests that each option must be evaluated by profitability (e/h), which is the ratio of energetic gain (e) per handling time (h), a short-sighted currency. As h includes the delay, profitability will be hyperbolically lower for long-delay food. Second, because of the resource competition between producing and scrounging foragers, profitability of the producer’s gain will critically depend on the scrounger’s behaviors. We first constructed an analytical model. The model predicted that the profitability of small and short-delay food option (SS) can be higher than that of the large and long-delay alternative (LL), depending on the duration in which the producer can monopolize a food patch (finder’s share). Next, we conducted numerical simulations on the assumption of variable food amount in each patch with realistic set of behavioral parameters. Although non-linearity of profitability function largely reduced profitability for variable amount of food, SS still can have a higher profitability than LL when the finder’s share is small. Because SS is consumed more quickly, it is more resistant against scrounging than LL. In good accordance, foraging domestic chicks form a synchronized flock and show socially-facilitated investment of effort. If raised in competition, chicks develop a higher degree of choice impulsiveness.

Keywords: Foraging Theory, Social foraging behaviour, profitability, Competition "Beaver", social facilitation

Received: 03 Jul 2018; Accepted: 04 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Taiki Takahashi, Hokkaido University, Japan

Reviewed by:

Marcelo N. Kuperman, Bariloche Atomic Centre, Argentina
Gergely Zachar, Semmelweis University, Hungary
Wataru Toyokawa, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2018 Ogura, Amita and Matsushima. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Toshiya Matsushima, Hokkaido University, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science,, Sapporo, 060-0810, Hokkaido, Japan,