Monkey prefers playing video games over grooming!

Washburn, D. A., and D. M. Rumbaugh. 1992. Investigations of rhesus monkey video task performance: Evidence for enrichment. Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci 31(5):6–10.

In this paper, the authors describe an empirical study of apes playing video games using the joystick I already pointed out here. A surprising result is the fact that apes preferred playing video games overs grooming!

Here is what they found (actually this summary is described in this paper)

How can one determine whether a monkey enjoys a computer task and whether the task improves psychological well-being? First, we examined each animal’s preference for engaging the joystick tasks relative to other favored activities. We found that playing the specially designed computer games is a highly preferred activity for the nonhuman primates, occupying a substantial portion—over 9h per day, on average—of each animal’s daily time budget (Washburn & Rumbaugh, 1992). The monkeys choose to engage in the tasks even when other attractive manipulanda and activities are available. The activities that get replaced in the daily repertoire are predominantly maladaptive and stress- or boredom-related behaviors, such as stereotypy, overgrooming, and aggression.