Frans de Waal is a Dutch biologist, who is studying primates. France tries to understand the origin of certain human behavior and morals. And for better understanding, he took a closer look into the animal world. In 70’s, when he decided to do more research, all the studies about primate and animal behaviour in general, were based on aggression and violence theory, It was thought, that aggression was a prime instinct, But, Frans discovered, that even though chimpanzes act agressively, they reconcile after a fight. Frans decided to focus on a socially positive tendencies and came to a conclusion,that animals are capable of empathy, sharing and doing favors for each other. Furthermore, they are all for fairness and equality.
Recently, he conducted an interesting experiment in monkeys of the Capuchin genus. During the experiment, two monkeys were given cucumbers. They both were happy and carried out a task. Then, one monkey was given a grape, while another had a cucumber. The monkey with a cucumber started to protest: shake the cage, throw a cucumber (which is an irrational reaction, because the cucumber is still better than nothing).
A similar experiment on chimpanzees was even more interesting. The chimpanzee with a grape refused to eat it, until the second one was given grapes as well. So, we can say with confidence that the chimpanzee’s sense of justice is more evolved, than Capuchin monkeys and even some human beings.
Find out more in NPR’s “Animals And Us”, Ted Radio Hour episode.