Keeping up with the Joneses: Dolphins' search knowledge for knowledge's sake

Yaniv Shani, Marie Christine Cepicka, Nadav Shashar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recent research on decision-making established that when not knowing the possible negative outcome of past experiences, individuals search for more information even when it confirms their early negative suspicion. It is argued that what drives this information search is the hope that the unpleasant state of " not knowing" ends when one faces the truth (Shani, Igou, & Zeelenberg, 2009; Shani, Tykocinski, & Zeelenberg, 2008; Shani & Zeelenberg, 2007). In this manuscript, we show that bottlenose dolphins as well, sometimes seek to increase their knowledge concerning food allocated to other dolphins in the group, even though such knowledge could not increase self-food availability. This search increases when own feed is augmented, and decreases when sexually engaged (a competing basic need to food and curiosity), suggesting that knowledge for knowledge's sake emerges particularly when the organisms' basic needs (e.g., food) have been satisfied, allowing higher-level psychological needs to emerge. This finding has diverse implications for understanding humans' curiosity and social comparison tendencies, as it appears that even in the animal kingdom information is viewed as a valuable asset of itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-424
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2011


  • Curiosity
  • Dolphins
  • Information search
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics


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