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Monkeys experience the joy of giving

By Aditi Chengappa     Aug 26, 2008 in Environment
A study shows that monkeys also find it pleasurable to share when given a chance. Read to find out more about how all of us are so alike and yet so different.
According to a Reuters report,
The team at the Yerkes Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta found that tests in capuchin monkeys showed that the animals consistently chose to share food with another monkey if given the option, suggesting that they are capable of empathy, and maybe experience the joy of giving just as humans do.
"They seem to care for the welfare of those they know," Frans de Waal, director of the Living Links Center at Yerkes, said in a statement.
Either way, the first monkey got the same amount of food.
"Subjects systematically favored the prosocial option provided their partner was a) familiar, b) visible, and c) receiving rewards of equal value," De Waal's team wrote in their report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The fact the capuchins predominantly selected the prosocial option must mean seeing another monkey receive food is satisfying or rewarding for them," said de Waal.
"We believe prosocial behavior is empathy based. Empathy increases in both humans and animals with social closeness, and in our study, closer partners made more prosocial choices."
De Waal's team next will see whether giving is rewarding to capuchins because they can eat together or if the monkeys simply like to see the other monkey enjoying food.
"Capuchin monkeys spontaneously share food in both nature and captivity, and commonly sit next to each other while eating," the researchers wrote.
I find this piece of news quite endearing, as it seems that indeed all animals are capable of loving without conditons, without rewards, unconditonally... i would love to think that my cat actually loves me for me, and not for all the meals i offer !
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