Fair play by chimps


New research suggests that chimps act with fairness – a sense of what another chimp is likely to regard as right and wrong – towards other chimps.

Dr Darby Proctor, from Emory University in Atlanta Georgia, explained how they had set about testing this and what they had found.

She told Today presenter Justin Webb that because of this research “we think that humans and chimpanzees share very similar behaviours”.

“We think that this sense of fairness is fairly evolutionarily ancient” she said, and explained that it might have been found in human’s and chimpanzee’s common ancestor.

Listen to the program at the link below:

Written By: BBC Radio 4
continue to source article at news.bbc.co.uk


  1. I would offer the example of vampire bats as a species which may have evolved a similar ‘sense of fairness’. As I understand it, vampire bats return to their colonies after feeding with mouthfuls of blood for their young. One bat will feed the offspring of many other bats nesting adjacent to it. However, occasionally a ‘free loading’ bat appears in the group which only feeds it’s own young. The other bats, seemingly noting this behaviour, have then been observed to cease feeding the offspring of the freeloader thus disadvantaging or ‘punishing’ such behaviour. I guess that it could be argued that the chimp’s behaviour exhibits more evidence of consciousness and complex calculation than the bat’s but perhaps it should not be surprising to find that a similar sense has arisen independently in quite a few close-knit living mammal species.

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