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Am J Primatol. 2006 Jul;68(7):713-24.

Partner's behavior, not reward distribution, determines success in an unequal cooperative task in capuchin monkeys.

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  • 1Living Links Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. sbrosna@emory.edu

Abstract

It was recently demonstrated that capuchin monkeys notice and respond to distributional inequity, a trait that has been proposed to support the evolution of cooperation in the human species. However, it is unknown how capuchins react to inequitable rewards in an unrestricted cooperative paradigm in which they may freely choose both whether to participate and, within the bounds of their partner's behavior, which reward they will receive for their participation. We tested capuchin monkeys with such a design, using a cooperative barpull, which has been used with great success in the past. Contrary to our expectations, the equity of the reward distribution did not affect success or pulling behavior. However, the behavior of the partner in an unequal situation did affect overall success rates: pairs that had a tendency to alternate which individual received the higher-value food in unequal reward situations were more than twice as successful in obtaining rewards than pairs in which one individual dominated the higher-value food. This ability to equitably distribute rewards in inherently biased cooperative situations has profound implications for activities such as group hunts, in which multiple individuals work together for a single, monopolizable reward.

(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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