What makes humans unique as a species? From consciousness to clothing to fire, one can name a bunch of things depending on how we want to carve up this whole uniqueness thing and how precisely we go about definitions.
Morality is one of the concepts caught in this discussion. And, judging by some super cute monkeys’ reaction to unfair payment for their work, at least to some extent the concept of fairness is understood not just by us.
This evidence, presented in the form of an adorable and hilarious video as well as accompanying science publications, comes from Frans de Waal, a Duth primatologist and ethologist whose research concerns primate social behaviour, including cooperation, conflict resolution and food sharing.
Below is an excerpt from a TED talk1 that de Waal gave on the subject of ethical behaviour in the animal kingdom. After his explanation on how the experiment works, watch what happens when two capuchin monkeys receive unequal pay in the form of cucumbers vs grapes.
I just want to add one thing. Grapes for all!
- What sounds like an annoying laugh track is actually the audience’s reaction. I know. Sorry about that. ↩