Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, are the first to show chimpanzees possess a sense of fairness in a report in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published on Jan. 14, 2013.
“In the study, researchers tested six adult chimpanzees and 20 human children (ages 2 to 7 years) on a modified Ultimatum Game. One individual chose between two differently colored tokens that, with his or her partner's cooperation, could be exchanged for rewards (small food rewards for chimpanzees and stickers for children). One token offered equal rewards to both players, whereas the other token favored the individual making the choice at the expense of his or her partner. The chooser then needed to hand the token to the partner, who needed to exchange it with the experimenter for food. This way, both individuals needed to be in agreement.”
“Both the chimpanzees and the children responded like adult humans typically do. If the partner's cooperation was required, the chimpanzees and children split the rewards equally. However, with a passive partner, who had no chance to reject the offer, chimpanzees and children chose the selfish option.”
This research may be the first in a series of demonstrations that the entirety of theological and philosophical claims of human worth and sense of right and wrong are in fact a genetic inheritance from animals and not unique at all.
The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert website the date of publication.