Chimps and humans share ‘sense of fair play’
Chimpanzees and humans have a similar sense of fair play, a new study suggests.
Both lean towards a fair distribution of rewards while playing the “Ultimatum Game”, a standard method of studying human fairness used by psychologists.
But in both species, fairness only goes so far. When it is possible to be selfish with impunity, charity tends to be forgotten. The results, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest human attitudes to fairness have a long evolutionary history.
Scientists studied both chimps and children taking part in the game, which involves one of two playing partners deciding how to split a reward. However, rewards are only distributed with the consent of the receiving partner, or respondent. In the tests, bananas acted as rewards for the chimps and play stickers for the children, who were aged between two and seven.
Lead scientist Dr Darby Procter, from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta, said: “The Ultimatum Game is the gold standard to determine the human sense of fairness. Humans typically offer generous portions, such as 50 per cent of the reward, to their partners, and that’s exactly what we recorded in our study with chimpanzees.”
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