Chimpanzees think economically rather than reciprocally

 

Researchers have devised an interesting new reciprocal game called the ultimatum game which has had some interesting results in chimpanzes.  There is an interesting summary here.

“one person, the proposer, is given money by an experimenter. That proposer can then divide the “manna from heaven” with a second person, the responder. The responder is not powerless – if he accepts the division, both people take home the offered amounts. But if he rejects it, both get nothing. The fear of having an unfair offer rejected causes the proposer to make a fair offer. People typically make offers of close to 50%. Anything less is likely to be rejected … chimpanzees do not show a willingness to make fair offers and reject unfair ones. In this way, they behave like selfish economists rather than as social reciprocators.”

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