Fair's Fair…or Not

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Science  05 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5847, pp. 13i
DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5847.13i

The experimental benchmark for demonstrating that humans have developed a sense of fairness is their behavior when playing the ultimatum game. If the division of spoils proposed by the first player is not generous enough (roughly 40 to 50% of the total), the second player will usually refuse to accept the proposal (giving up any hope of a gain), which has the consequence of depriving the first player of any payout as well. Jensen et al. (p. 107) have now implemented a trimmed-down version of the ultimatum game in chimpanzees. When in the role of player 2, our nearest relatives, unlike human subjects, will accept any number of raisins, and, perhaps as a consequence, chimps show little propensity to make fair offers.

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