Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Study: Chimpanzees As Altruistic As Humans

Female chimpanzees like to spontaneously help others rather than act selfishly, suggesting altruism may not be a uniquely human trait, US researchers said on Monday.

Scientists at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in the southeastern state of Georgia tested seven female chimpanzees to see if observations of the species' generous behavior in the field matched their decisions in a lab.

Given a choice of two colored tokens, one which guaranteed a banana treat for two and the other which gave a reward for the chooser only, the chimps tended to pick the social option, said the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous studies have suggested that chimps tend to act selfishly in so-called pro-social tests.

The researchers also found that chimps most often acted generously when the waiting partner reminded the chooser gently of her presence but did not act up or bully her into picking a treat for two.

"We were excited to find female after female chose the option that gave both her and her partner food," said lead author Victoria Horner.


Full story here.
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