The Situationist

Monkey Fairness

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 7, 2009

From Youtube:

A pair of capuchin monkeys show very compelling signs of cooperation and a sense of fairness, by working together to solve a problem using tools, and then sharing the reward.

They also show signs of understanding fairness: when unequal rewards are given to one monkey and not another, the monkey receiving the lesser treat would rather go hungry than accept anything less than an equal reward.

From the BBC documentary “Capuchins: The Monkey Puzzle”, narrated by the ever brilliant Sir David Attenborough.

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For some related posts, see “Miscalculating Welfare – Abstract” and “Cheering for the Underdog.”


7 Responses to “Monkey Fairness”

  1. Capuchin’s fairness is not so sure. First, De Waal’s origional finding has not been replicated by Tomasellos’ team. Second, and more important, there several and more simple explanations to such a behaviour. his does not show that monkeys are averse to inequity, only that they reject a lesser reward when better rewards are available. It can also be frustration or envy or even discouragement. Finally, although they hunt collectively, neither dogs nor chimps seem to take into account individual contributions to the hunt when sharing meat (not mentioning the case of capuchin).

    See my post on Cognition and Culture.

  2. Humans don’t always take individual contributions into account either.

  3. […] outrage is easy to provoke.  There’s pretty good evidence that the concept of fairness is hardwired into our brains: when we’re on the short end of a deal, we’d rather screw ourselves […]

  4. […] To download the paper for free, click here.  To read a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Robin Hood Motives” and “Monkey Fairness.” […]

  5. […] “The Situation of Kindness,” “New Study Looks at the Roots of Empathy,” “Monkey Fairness,” “The Situation of Punishment (and Forgiveness),” “The Situation […]

  6. […] in Chimpanzees – Abstract,” “The Situation of Political Animals,” and “Monkey Fairness.” Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Situation of Experimental […]

  7. […] a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Monkey Fairness,” “A Discussion about (In)Equality,”“Inequality and the Unequal Situation of […]

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