Origins of Us

Apes' Sense of Fairness

Chimpanzees Successfully Play the Ultimatum Game: Apes' Sense of Fairness Confirmed.

Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, are the first to show chimpanzees possess a sense of fairness that has previously been attributed as uniquely human. Working with colleagues from Georgia State University, the researchers played the Ultimatum Game with the chimpanzees to determine how sensitive the animals are to the reward distribution between two individuals if both need to agree on the outcome. The researchers say the findings, available in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) available this week, suggest a long evolutionary history of the human aversion to inequity as well as a shared preference for fair outcomes by the common ancestor of humans and apes. For purposes of direct comparison, the study was also conducted separately with human children. Chimpanzees, who are highly cooperative in the wild, likely need to be sensitive to reward distributions in order to reap the benefits of cooperation.

 

Thus, this study opens the door for further explorations into the mechanisms behind this human-like behavior.

 

Kemo D. 7

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