The Ultimatum Game: What Primates Can Teach Us About Inequality
The ultimatum game is the ultimate test of fairness, and chimpanzees passed the test by going for the fair options.
I’m interested in our current economic situation of inequity in society. There’s a growing inequity and we actually do experiments on equity in chimpanzees and monkeys. One of our typical experiments which has become very popular is we put two monkeys side by side. If they both work on the same task and they both get cucumber slices, they’re very happy with that situation. If one of them gets grapes and the other one gets cucumber, the one who gets cucumber gets very upset and starts to throw the food out of the cage and doesn’t want to do the task anymore.
And so primates, we now know, get very upset by inequalities like this. And chimpanzees go even further. With chimpanzees, the one who gets the grape may refuse the grape until the other one also gets a grape. So they have a sense of fairness that even goes into the other direction where it benefits. Well, it’s not a benefit for me but I want to have an equal situation between the two of us. We recently played the ultimatum game with chimpanzees which is the ultimate test of the human sense of fairness and the chimpanzees passed the test in that particular game. They chose for the fair options.
And so inequity is problematic. It is part of our economy to create inequalities but I think just like the primates we have strong aversive reactions to it. And so it puts the stress on our social system, I think, to create inequalities. And we study this in the primates. People study it now in children and the sort of general consensus that we have is that we’re not particularly happy with unequal distributions. That doesn’t mean that to some degree inequalities are not needed in the economy. I think some level of inequality is always needed because you want to have incentives for certain people to do certain things. But if it gets too big I think it damages the social relationships.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.
- Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
- In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.
- July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
- Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
- NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.
Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds.
- Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade.
- Higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black may be the cause.
- These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.
Jokesters and serious Area 51 raiders would be met with military force.
- Facebook joke event to "raid Area 51" has already gained 1,000,000 "going" attendees.
- The U.S. Air Force has issued an official warning to potential "raiders."
- If anyone actually tries to storm an American military base, the use of deadly force is authorized.