Monkey Behavior

By encino - Posted on 13 February 2009

Scientists Versus The Monkeys Again

Recently a couple of scientists published an article in Nature called "Animal behavior: Fair refusal by capuchin monkeys”. The scientists trained brown capuchin monkeys to exchange pebbles in return for cucumbers. Very quickly, the clever capuchins developed their economy of pepples, with hungry monkeys collecting small stones. But then, guess what the clever scientists did? They started to give some monkeys a grape for pepples instead of just a cucumber. And since monkeys prefer grapes to cucumbers, this was not a happy situation for unlucky monkeys receiving cucumbers. The monkeys who only received cucumbers became very upset with this injustice. Some of the monkeys started throwing their cucumbers at the scientists and most just stopped collecting pebbles. The monkeys were willing to give up their food simply to show the scientists that they would not put up with such unfairness. So, this supposedly shows that the monkeys wanted an honest day's wages for an honest day's work just like humans do. This sounds like people just having fun with monkeys and then writing a sophisticated article to justify their playtime. They called the monkey behavior "disadvantageous inequity aversion". I would like that job too. It is interesting that monkeys know when they are being ripped off and demonstrate some of the same social feelings that other primates and perhaps other animals do. Humans have to cooperate and be fair or else things don’t work out very well. Cheaters can only get away with cheating for so long until someone spots the injustice.

laboratory monkey

Monkey experimenting


Capuchin monkeys

Tufted Capuchin monkeys


Animal pages