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Apparently, Monkeys Can Tell When Something is ‘Fair’

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Leading primatologist Frans de Waal carried out a test with monkeys showing how animals understand the concept of equality and equal pay.

monkey test

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Although researchers are delving deeper into understanding the nature of animals and how they co-exist with each other, little do we understand about how they interpret most of what we consider as only a ‘human’ behavior.

In a study done by the primatologist team, two Capuchin monkeys were placed side-by-side in a cage. These monkeys, according to the scientists, “live in a group and know each other.” The test monkeys were taken out of the group and placed in the test chamber for the scientific study.

monkey test

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What happens during the test was a mix of humor and sudden comprehension about the abilities of how the Capuchin monkeys are able to understand the concept of fairness.

During the experiment, the two test monkeys were to give the experimenter a stone in exchange for a treat. Both animals were given only cucumbers during the initial stage of the research and according to Dr. De Waal the monkeys “were perfectly willing to do this twenty-five times in a row.”

A deviant experiment was conducted wherein one monkey was given the same cucumber and the other was given a grape after giving the experimenter the stone. The scientist, according to a video released by TED Talks, says that with the grape being a “far better food … creates inequity between them.”

monkey test

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The surprising reaction of how the monkey receiving the cucumber behaved – lashing out and throwing the cucumber at the researcher – proves that they understand the concept of fairness and equal pay.

TED also provided a clear detail about the research findings saying, “Fairness, reciprocity, empathy, cooperation – caring about the well-being of others seems like a very human trait.”

The surprising results from these behavioral tests done on mammals and other primates clearly show the “moral straits all of us share.”

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