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Chimps too posses innate sense of fairplay

Posted on Jan 16, 10:42AM | IANS

Chimpanzees too possess an innate sense of fairplay like humans, according to a latest study.

Researchers from Emory University's Yerkes National Primate Research Centre, working with colleagues from Georgia State University, played the Ultimatum Game with the chimps, in which two players interact to decide how to divide a sum of money that is given to them.

The findings suggest a long evolutionary history of the human aversion to inequity as well as a shared preference for fair outcomes by the common ancestor of humans and apes, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

"We used the Ultimatum Game because it is the gold standard to determine the human sense of fairness. In the game, one individual needs to propose a reward division to another and then have that individual accept the proposition before both can obtain the rewards," said first author Darby Proctor.

"Humans typically offer generous portions, such as 50 percent of the reward, to their partners, and that's exactly what we recorded in our study with chimpanzees," added Proctor, according to an Emory statement.

Co-author Frans de Waal, said: "Until our study, the behavioural economics community assumed the Ultimatum Game could not be played with animals or that animals would choose only the most selfish option while playing."

"We've concluded that chimpanzees not only get very close to the human sense of fairness, but the animals may actually have exactly the same preferences as our own species," added de Waal.

For purposes of direct comparison, the study was also conducted separately with human children. Both the chimp and the children responded like adult humans typically do.

If the partner's co-operation was required, the chimps and children split the rewards equally.

However, with a passive partner, who had no chance to reject the offer, chimpanzees and children chose the selfish option.

Chimps, who are highly cooperative in the wild, likely need to be sensitive to reward distributions in order to reap the benefits of cooperation.

The study opens the door for further explorations into the mechanisms behind human-like behaviours.