When it comes to food, chimps only think of themselves

Aug 15, 2012
Common chimpanzee in the Leipzig Zoo. Image credit: Thomas Lersch, via Wikipedia.

A sense of fairness is an important part of human behaviour, yet a research team involving Queen Mary, University of London (UK) found it did not evolve from our closest living relatives.

The study, published in the journal Biology Letters today tested whether our relatives, the and , have a sense of fairness like humans.

The scientists, involving Professor Keith Jensen, from Queen Mary's School of Biological and , put the apes through a series of ultimatum games.

One against the other, they had to choose whether to steal or leave the other's grapes. The games were set up in a variety of different ways involving equal proportions of grapes and others were split with a higher proportion given to one over the other.

Professor Jensen explained: "In each scenario one ape had to choose whether to steal the grapes or leave a portion of grapes for the other. We found that consistently they would steal the food without taking into account whether their action would have an effect on their partner.

"Neither the chimpanzees nor bonobos seemed to care whether food was stolen or not, or whether the outcomes were fair or not, as long as they got something.

"Our findings support other studies of chimpanzees but also extend these to bonobos. Both have no concern for fairness or the effects that their choices may have on others; in stark contrast to the way humans behave.

"We can therefore conclude that our results indicate that our sense of fairness is a derived trait and may be unique to the human race.

"If fairness considerations are important for cooperative activities such as trading goods and services and sharing, the question then is, when did they evolve in our species? And if fairness is important only in humans, the question is why only in humans?"

Explore further: Risk-taking behavior depends on metabolic rate and temperature in great tits

More information: 'Theft is an ultimatum game' is published in the journal Biology Letters on 15 August 2012.

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Ophelia
4.2 / 5 (6) Aug 15, 2012
"A sense of fairness is an important part of human behaviour, yet a research team involving Queen Mary, University of London (UK) found it did not evolve from our closest living relatives."

"from" ?????????

And here I thought chimpanzees were on a separate limb of the evolutionary tree.

"from" Really? Not editing again, I see.
Tangent2
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 15, 2012
I would be interested to see if the same can be said about other species that interact and live as a group/hive mentality, such as bottlenose dolphins.
ValeriaT
2 / 5 (8) Aug 15, 2012
Both apes have no concern for fairness or the effects that their choices may have on others
IMO these scientists just don't remember, what they found before few years, if not months. They just need another and another money for neverending rewriting of their mutual research. This waste of public money must stop.
kochevnik
3.6 / 5 (11) Aug 15, 2012
"in stark contrast to the way humans behave."
Actually, this is how the great preponderance of humans behave as well. Hence rednecks and republicans. They talk of some skyfairy as scaffolding for their primal behavior, but it's merely a desperate attempt to validate their atavist brains.
packrat
1.8 / 5 (12) Aug 15, 2012
"in stark contrast to the way humans behave."
Actually, this is how the great preponderance of humans behave as well. Hence rednecks and republicans. They talk of some skyfairy as scaffolding for their primal behavior, but it's merely a desperate attempt to validate their atavist brains.


You know something, I'm glad I don't live the same sick world you seem to imagine that exists. I'm my world rednecks and republicans (meaning conservative people from your viewpoint) happen to be the people that make society possible. You won't find very many liberals growing food or making things like the car you drive etc.... Rednecks also tend to be some of the most generous people around. If you don't believe that try going to country people homes and asking for food because you don't have any money....There is a 99.99% chance you will get fed. Now try it again at some liberals home and watch how fast you get arrested and hauled off the property.
packrat
1.7 / 5 (10) Aug 15, 2012
As far as people that believe in the 'skyfairy' goes, the bible was written by people living on one small corner of the world who's idea of science at that time consisted of looking up at the sky and trying to decide if it was going to rain. I do happen to believe in a creator and the day you can go build a tree from nothing but sunlight, water and few chemicals then you will have the right to criticize that idea and not until then. Until that time your nothing but another fake atheist. I say fake because a real atheist would have better things to do with their time than criticizing other people for something you can't prove or disprove. A real atheist wouldn't care one way or the other. People like you are more religious than people that believe but don't actively practice their religion no matter what type it is.
My response just consisted of logic and reality. Your statement consisted of the usual liberal gibberish insults.
kochevnik
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 15, 2012
"in stark contrast to the way humans behave."
In reality human benevolence and civilization is an artifact, brought about by the abundance of relatively free petrol energy. Food for human consumption requires something on the order of six times the food energy in oil to grow, and meat requires about twenty-five times the oil energy to put on the table. Once this "free energy" is exhausted, humans will instantly revert to "no concern for fairness or the effects that their choices may have on others."
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (2) Aug 15, 2012
In combination with ValeriaT's reference (clearly showing a sense of fairness and compassion in the immediate present), perhaps what the scientists found in this case is not so much a lack of fair-mindedness, as a lack of long-term cognition. IOW, maybe the apes live in the present and don't concern themselves much with what might happen some time later (i.e. how the other ape will feel at a later point when they find out they've been robbed -- or conversely, feeling robbed as a consequence of acts that didn't happen in the immediate present.) This isn't much different from human infants, I might note -- who know well when they're being treated unfairly, but have trouble perceiving or thinking in the long-term.
ValeriaT
2 / 5 (8) Aug 15, 2012
perhaps what the scientists found in this case is not so much a lack of fair-mindedness, as a lack of long-term cognitionperhaps what the scientists found in this case is not so much a lack of fair-mindedness, as a lack of long-term cognition
Or perhaps not (not surprisingly your comment was upvoted here, because it's BS)... This study apparently found lack of fair-mindeness, so it contradicts the previous studies of bonobos.
Deathclock
1.9 / 5 (9) Aug 15, 2012
day you can go build a tree from nothing but sunlight, water and few chemicals


It's called a seed...

Also, you're full of shit... because that is not the day you will renounce your idea of a creator, it's the day you will proclaim that it required an intelligent being to create the tree. You guys have all bases covered, it doesn't matter what evidence we find or how much knowledge we gain about the physical world, your belief system has every angle accounted for to allow you to rationalize ANYTHING.
packrat
2 / 5 (9) Aug 15, 2012
Deathclock, you really shouldn't assume what I think. I would love to see our capabilities in science reach that level. We have learned more in the last 100 years than we have in the last 10,000. I think that is fantastic and hope it goes even faster in the future and with modern communication it should. My believing in a creator doesn't change my opinion of science in any way. I said the bible was written by people that didn't have any science. They answered life's questions the only way they knew how. I'm not silly enough to believe everything in that book is fact as it was written by men who didn't know any better. I do believe it basically tells people to act sensibly to each other and that's the main point of most religions although looking at history shows most people don't really pay much any attention to that point.
kochevnik
3 / 5 (8) Aug 16, 2012
I do believe it basically tells people to act sensibly to each other and that's the main point of most religions although looking at history shows most people don't really pay much any attention to that point.
I call B.S. on that. Religion is a system of judgement and delusion employed solely to keep the unwashed masses under the ruler's thumb. Religion is institutionalized retardation. Your earlier posts are proof of that.
geokstr
1.4 / 5 (10) Aug 16, 2012
I do believe it basically tells people to act sensibly to each other and that's the main point of most religions although looking at history shows most people don't really pay much any attention to that point.
I call B.S. on that. Religion is a system of judgement and delusion employed solely to keep the unwashed masses under the ruler's thumb. Religion is institutionalized retardation. Your earlier posts are proof of that.

As an atheist, I call BS on your call of BS. Let's take a look at your own nation. Wasn't the national religion atheism for about 70 years? And what did that wonderful belief system do - eliminate 40 million poor b*st*rds that happened to disagree with the proudly atheistic government. And inspire China, Cuba, Cambodia and others to eliminate another 60-70 million or so?

Religion, exclusive of Islam, has pretty much grown up to accept the norms of these modern times. Atheism - not so much yet.
kochevnik
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 16, 2012
As an atheist, I call BS on your call of BS. Let's take a look at your own nation. Wasn't the national religion atheism for about 70 years? And what did that wonderful belief system do - eliminate 40 million poor b*st*rds that happened to disagree with the proudly atheistic government. And inspire China, Cuba, Cambodia and others to eliminate another 60-70 million or so?

Religion, exclusive of Islam, has pretty much grown up to accept the norms of these modern times. Atheism - not so much yet.

You're no atheist. You summairly rate down every post on religion I write. Moreover Stalin was raised Catholic and regularly met with church officials, even hosting parties for them. By suppressing Eastern Orthodoxy he cleared the way for the zionist bolshevism with the sole purpose of stealing Russian resources, namely gold, and instituting the ultimate form of taxation on Russians: catholic communism. Lenin made criticizing zionists punishable by death in 1917.
BLAST OF SHIT IN THE FACE
1 / 5 (5) Aug 18, 2012
This article sucks ass, we didn't evolve from chimps WTF?
I'm going to eat a hotdog now.
Sinister1811
2.4 / 5 (9) Aug 19, 2012
You're right - we didn't evolve from Chimpanzees. But, both Chimpanzees and Humans share a common ancestor. And, with that reason alone, they are our closest living relatives. Understanding their behavior could reveal some insights into our own, as well as serve [as] a comparison between the species.