ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside February/March 2008

Some Are More Equal

The primate preference for fairness may depend on complex social rules

Life may not be fair, but humans have a strong bias for fairness. In experiments, humans will generally reject or punish a partner who offers noticeably less than half of a shared reward, even if they wind up empty-handed. Chimps, it turns out, are not so picky and will (rationally, an economist might add) take whatever they can get, according to an October 2007 Science paper. So what could explain this difference between our closest living relatives and us?

The answer may lie in the social relationships that influence so many of our actions. Recent studies of primate fairness seem to contradict one another—unless you consider who exactly is cheating whom.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Back To School

Back to School Sale!

12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X