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From the Age of 5 Humans Decide Economically, Whereas Crows Exhibit Individual Preferences

Article | Open | Published:

, Articlenumber: 17043 ( 2017 ) | Download Citation

Human societies greatly depend on tools, which spare us considerable time and effort. Humans might have evolved a bias to employ tools, using them even when they are unnecessary. This study aimed to investigate whether adult humans and a distantly related habitually tool-using vertebrate species, the New Caledonian crow (), use tools depending on their necessity. In addition, children aged 3 to 5 years were examined to investigate the developmental pattern. The task involved choosing between using a body part (i.e. crows: beak; humans: hand) or a tool for retrieving a reward from a box. All subjects were tested in two conditions. In the Body+/Tool− condition, using the body was more efficient than using the tool, and conversely in the Body−/Tool+ condition. Our results suggest that the capacity to employ tools economically develops late in humans. Crows, however, failed to choose economically. At the individual level, some subjects exhibited striking individual preferences for either using a tool or their beak throughout the task. Whether such biases depend on individual experience or whether they are genetically determined remains to be investigated. Our findings provide new insights about tool use and its cognitive implementation in two outstanding tool-using taxa.

How could humans do without tools? From the small hunter-gatherer communities to the bewilderingly complex industrialized western societies, tools are found everywhere. The assumed link between tool use and the evolution of the human brain has spurred research into the cognitive abilities associated with tool use 1 , 2 , Novica Green onyx dangle earrings Dew on the Vine s9drE
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By Angela Duckworth

For all their grandeur and euphoria, graduation ceremonies can be harrowing. Until that momentous day, you’re a student whose job is to do what your teacher asks. Now you have to ask things of yourself — but what?

If you’re relying on a commencement speaker to set your compass, you may still be confused at day’s end. In my experience, it’s common to hear “Follow your passion” from the podium. This is great counsel if, in fact, you know what that passion is. But what if you don’t?

Young graduates might imagine that discovering your passion happens the way it does in a movie: with a flash of insight and a trumpet blast. Before that flash, you were struggling to find yourself, and in the next moment, you know exactly who you were meant to be.

As a psychologist who studies world-class achievers, I can say the reality of following your passion is not very romantic. It takes time to develop a direction that feels so in-the-bones right that you never want to veer from it.

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