Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I love this story

( —A team of Japanese and British researchers has found that capuchin monkeys behave less receptively towards people they observe who refuse to help when asked by another person. In their paper published in Nature Communications describing their study and findings, the group reports that the monkeys were less inclined to accept a treat from someone that wasn't cooperative.
Isn't that great? Go read about it. I know you won't, so here's some more.
Two volunteer actors were placed in front of a monkey so that their interaction could be seen. One of the actors held a jar that contained objects unknown to the monkey. He or she simulated attempting to open the jar but failed, indicating the lid was too tight. He or she then asked the second actor to help open the jar. In some scenarios, the second actor agreed and helped out, in others, he or she refused to help at all. After each little skit, both actors held out a food treat for the monkey, only one of which the monkey could accept. The researchers found that the monkey preferred to accept the treat from the actor that held the jar over an actor that refused to help. When presented with treats when the actor did help open the jar, the monkey demonstrated no preference on treat acceptance. To make sure other variables weren't at play, the researchers repeated the experiment many times with different monkeys, actors and genders. They also ran trials where the actor who was asked to help refused because he or she was busy trying to open their own jar. In such cases, the observing monkeys appeared to give the actor who refused to help a pass.
Isn't that amazing? The monkeys understood the human interactions they observed. Animals are not dumb. Try to remember this when you're wondering what to eat for dinner.