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Sense of Fair Play Found in Monkeys

September 20, 2003|From Reuters

When it comes to fair play, capuchin monkeys don't settle for any funny business.

They demand their equal share of food or rewards for tasks they've done. They won't settle for an injustice and are miffed when they think they have been cheated, researchers said Wednesday.

"It's the first time a sense of fairness has been found in any nonhuman, at least to our knowledge," said Sarah Brosnan, a researcher at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University in Atlanta.

She and her colleague, Frans de Waal, uncovered the sense of fair play in a study of the small brown primates from Central and South America. The monkeys received food in exchange for doing a certain task. But each partner did not always get the same quantity or quality of food for equal amounts of effort.

If both members of the pair did not get the same reward, the monkey shortchanged refused to accept it or threw it away.

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