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The effect of perceived inequality on monkeys

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posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 10:56 PM
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Have you seen this video ? I am sure some of you have.

Two monkeys are "asked" to complete a task in order to receive a reward. At first, both monkeys are given equal reward, which is cucumber and all is good, and they see each other receiving the same reward, but then one of the monkeys is given grapes as reward instead of cucumber and when the other monkey sees that he is not treated equally, he starts to refuse cucumber and acts nervously.



Here is another video that shows the same behavior

Does it mean that there is a need for perceived equality that has a genetic origin ? And what about humans ?

Have you seen these charts ?






Can we change ? Maybe the following story can lead us to the answer : There was a troop of baboons, in that troop there were alpha males, and thus a very rigid hierarchy, but then disaster came in the form of tuberculosis which killed half of all the males, including all alpha males, and from that point not one alpha male emerged and the troop became much more peaceful. There was less status disparity between members.

Biologists Robert Sapolsky and Lisa Share have followed a troop of wild baboons in Kenya for over 20 years, starting in 1978. Sapolsky and Share called them “The Garbage Dump Troop” because they got much of their food from a garbage pit at a tourist lodge. But not every baboon was allowed to eat from the pit in the early 1980s: The aggressive, high status males in the troop refused to allow lower status males, or any females, to eat the garbage. Between 1983 and 1986, infected meat from the dump led to the deaths of 46% of the adult males in the troop. The biggest and meanest males died off. As in other baboon troops studied, before they died, these top-ranking males routinely bit, bullied, and chased males of similar and lower status, and occasionally directed their aggression at females.

But when the top ranking males died-off in the mid-1980s, aggression by the (new) top baboons dropped dramatically, with most aggression occurring between baboons of similar rank, and little of it directed toward lower-status males, and none at all directed at females. Troop members also spent a larger percentage of the time grooming, sat closer together than in the past, and hormone samples indicated that the lowest status males experienced less stress than underlings in other baboon troops. Most interestingly, these effects persisted at least through the late 1990’s, well after all the original “kinder” males had died-off. Not only that, when adolescent males who grew up in other troops joined the “Garbage Dump Troop,” they too engaged in less aggressive behavior than in other baboon troops. As Sapolsky put it “We don’t understand the mechanism of transmission… but the jerky new guys are obviously learning: We don’t do things like that around here.” So, at least by baboon standards, the garbage dump troop developed and enforced what I would call a “no ahole rule.”

I am not suggesting that you get rid of all the alpha males in your organization, as tempting as that may be at times. The lesson from the baboons is that when the social distance between higher and lower status mammals in a group are reduced, and steps are taken to keep the distance smaller, higher status members are less likely to act like jerks. Human leaders can use this lesson to avoid turning into mean, selfish, and insensitive jerks too. Despite all the trappings, some leaders do remain attuned to how people around them are really feeling, to what their employees really believe about how the organization is ran, and to what customers really think about their company’s products and services. As “The Garbage Dump Troop” teaches us, the key thing these leaders do is to take potent, and constant, steps that dampen rather amplify the power differences between themselves and others (both inside and outside the company).


Humans have lived for something like 90% of their existence in very egalitarian groups of hunter-gatherers. In the grand scheme of things, agriculture - which enabled sedentarization, wealth accumulation, division of labor, patriarchate - is very new. Our sensitivity to inequality has been tuned to the hunter-gatherer life style, in which status and wealth inequality was small, but this sensitivity in our world today is facing incredible wealth and status inequality, and this would explain our inequality-meter going nuts, leading to all kinds of health and social problems.




posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 11:03 PM
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Monkeys are socialist commie unionists.
They need a good freedom bombing.



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 11:24 PM
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a reply to: gosseyn

I found it interesting that the top 5 countries on the mental illness chart were all english speaking , basically all the english speaking countries . Complex language maybe .Sorry nothing to do with communist monkeys .

edit on 6-6-2015 by hutch622 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 11:38 PM
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originally posted by: skunkape23
Monkeys are socialist commie unionists.
They need a good freedom bombing.


This is by far the funniest thing I have read today, and possibly in weeks. I am working out of country and we have been making freedom jokes for months now...

...do I know you?



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 12:33 AM
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If that monkey could bomb the other one for its grapes, it would.



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 12:45 AM
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a reply to: gosseyn

Okay so how do we get congress to eat infected meat?
second line



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 01:16 AM
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originally posted by: Dimithae
a reply to: gosseyn

Okay so how do we get congress to eat infected meat?
second line


The important thing to note is not that the alpha males died, but it's the fact that after the tuberculosis event the group could go on without alpha males, without a strong hierarchy. Their system got reorganized for the better and they lived on like this despite the fact that we would think it is in their nature to have alpha males and a strong hierarchy. Obviously the fact that so many males died gave females a stronger impact on the life of the group, and I am sure that played a role.



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 08:10 AM
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a reply to: gosseyn

Very interesting! S&F! It doesn't surprise me at all. Down the toilet drain we go.

Can we get links to the information? I don't see those charts on the www.equalitytrust.org.uk... website...



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 09:02 AM
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This is an excellent study. It's interesting to note that when potential alpha males from other groups joined, they were able to give up their domineering habits in order to fit in. If they had asserted themselves as the leaders of the group, again developing a hierarchy, I wonder if they would have been accepted as such by the passive members of the group, or somehow ostracized or penalized.

According to human (American) behavior, they would have let them dominate. I suppose they would have been too busy watching mindless television to intervene, or bother to try to take them out of office.... er I mean business.

Great OP!



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 11:00 AM
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There will never be "all equal" in the humans(not talking about race but as species, male and female). Dominance is biology, it is what brought us to this era.



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 11:35 AM
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a reply to: gosseyn

Yes, the first 2 videos were already posted. But that doesn't matter...you went on to make an outstanding OP that has given me something to ponder and read up on. The baboon story, in particular, is intriguing in that is might show a more complex intellect in the species than typically considered.



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 11:41 AM
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a reply to: gosseyn
S&F...was not aware of this experiment. Thank you for sharing. Monkeys are so much more intelligent than we give credit. Their range of understanding and emotions are pretty complex.

You should check out the studies showing chimps making spears and looking before crossing the roads.

Thanks again!



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 01:43 PM
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originally posted by: hutch622
a reply to: gosseyn

I found it interesting that the top 5 countries on the mental illness chart were all english speaking , basically all the english speaking countries . Complex language maybe .Sorry nothing to do with communist monkeys .


That is because in English speaking countries we are self-absorbed and selfish. Other countries people simply carry on with their lives without all the complaining and self-indulgence.

Note: The above is my opinion, but I think it does explain the mental health differences.



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 01:59 PM
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I think a fair amount of mental health issues stem from money.
Specifically, not having enough of it. It's the leading cause of fights among married couples.
Not having enough of it is stressful, stress leads to all manner of physical and mental problems.

So when they say money is the root of all evil, it really is. If people had enough money to pay all their bills, weren't saddled with thousands of dollars in student loan debts, etc etc. Then i think the rates of mental illness would decrease. There are those that really do have a brain issue, and sometimes that cannot be helped. But those numbers increase every year, and every year we all get poorer.

I can't even tell you how many times i've had near panic attacks, cried, or got angry because of money. Not having enough of it. Now my credit is screwed, i can't get a student loan, and seems like there's no way out of my hole other than bankruptcy. My pinpoint of light in the darkness.
edit on 7/6/15 by AzureSky because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 03:14 PM
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The communist monkeys are actually a demonstration on perceived fairness, if you think about it. A grape, a cucumber...what gives one value over the other aside from the perception of value. Off the cuff, and watching my children argue between each other, I would agree that perhaps a sense of fairness, or equality, is deeply ingrained in the psyche. This then leads me to wonder if my children are communists, and is communism also genetic?!?!? As an American, this is why I firmly believe in the freedom spanking, to undo their socialist tendencies and teach them that by force alone will they get more cookies than their siblings. Not because one thing is fair and another is not.

Seriously, though, the story of the "Garbage Dump Troop" sounds more like a case of dominance gone out of control. There are always bullies. That doesn't mean leadership is without value. Hasn't it been shown in some instances that group decision making can lead to indecision and inaction? There can still be Alpha Males (or females) without the dominant figure having to be an Alpha Asshole.

I also wonder if inequality leads to health and social issues more because of the impact higher wage earners have on the cost of goods and services, not because of the actual difference in income levels.



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 03:42 PM
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Super good OP!

I didn't pay well enough attention...but would like to ask if the baboons were fed by an outside the troop entity; a human?
I guess so, one a cucumber- the other grapes were given?

...I'm thinking that if the food was provided by an outside the troop entity, all the baboons will have a certain amount of reverence toward whomever fed them during the study...that reverence will then extend to all the troop members in the group because they equally are cared for by this entity?

...if none of them are winning food for the whole troop, none of them gain a 'license' to pick and choose who will eat what?

I guess what I'm asking is;
Are humans in any way interacting with them during the study?
I think the reverence they have for each other stems from the reverence they all share for the guy feeding them...



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 06:22 PM
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originally posted by: Benevolent Heretic
a reply to: gosseyn

Very interesting! S&F! It doesn't surprise me at all. Down the toilet drain we go.

Can we get links to the information? I don't see those charts on the www.equalitytrust.org.uk... website...


On this page www.equalitytrust.org.uk...



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 06:34 PM
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a reply to: gosseyn

As u see in Sweden we work for a equal society but sometimes the extremism in human behaviour puts the equality to a stretch which we usually can fix, Sweden is one of the coldest places and yet the most humane places you can live in, if you adapt to a moderate lifestyle of a community.



posted on Jun, 8 2015 @ 02:51 AM
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a reply to: gosseyn

Dogs and cats do the same thing, if you have multiples of them as pets you probably know this. When you give one a lesser treat than the other they notice and get upset.

Animals seem to innately grasp the idea of lesser items for lesser social status but they also grasp the idea of equal pay for equal work.



posted on Jun, 9 2015 @ 01:52 AM
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originally posted by: VekTorVik
The communist monkeys are actually a demonstration on perceived fairness, if you think about it. A grape, a cucumber...what gives one value over the other aside from the perception of value.
The monkeys know each other, they have been taken from the same group, and they also know the taste of grapes, they have eaten both cucumber and grapes prior to the experiment and 90% of the time when presented with both available foods they choose grapes, they only accept cucumber when only cucumber is available. So no, it is not "perceived value", they just prefer the taste of grapes and they can recognize it visually. For them, grapes represent a better reward than cucumber.


Off the cuff, and watching my children argue between each other, I would agree that perhaps a sense of fairness, or equality, is deeply ingrained in the psyche. This then leads me to wonder if my children are communists, and is communism also genetic?!?!? As an American, this is why I firmly believe in the freedom spanking, to undo their socialist tendencies and teach them that by force alone will they get more cookies than their siblings. Not because one thing is fair and another is not.

I hope you're joking..



I also wonder if inequality leads to health and social issues more because of the impact higher wage earners have on the cost of goods and services, not because of the actual difference in income levels.

It is both. Someone who is hungry everyday and can't pay for health care is indeed in a problematic situation and can start to become a problem also to others. And in this case inequality just adds to the problem. But studies have shown that at a certain level of income, money stops from providing well-being and happiness. Even someone who is paid 1 million/year can feel looked down by someone who is paid more, etc..

But capuchin monkeys have no notion of wage, cost, income levels etc.. This experiment proves that perceived inequality itself engenders nervous and/or violent behavior.


Here is a link to the complete description of the experiment www.emory.edu...



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