Two monkeys were paid unequally

Cucumber or grapes? What happens when two monkeys do the same task but get 'paid' in different ways? Watch this funny video to find out how monkeys react to inequality.

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. You can also read the transcript.

Transcript

So, the final experiment that I want to mention to you is our fairness study. And so, this became a very famous study. And there's now many more, because after we did this about ten years ago, it became very well known. And we did that originally with capuchin monkeys. And I'm going to show you the first experiment that we did. It has now been done with dogs and with birds and with chimpanzees. But with Sarah Brosnan we started out with capuchin monkeys.

So what we did is we put two capuchin monkeys side by side. Again, these animals, they live in a group, they know each other. We take them out of the group, put them in a test chamber. And there's a very simple task that they need to do. And if you give both of them cucumber for the task, the two monkeys side-by-side, they're perfectly willing to do this 25 times in a row. So cucumber, even though it's really only water in my opinion, but cucumber is perfectly fine for them. Now if you give the partner grapes – the food preferences of my capuchin monkeys correspond exactly with the prices in the supermarket – and so if you give them grapes, it's a far better food, then you create inequity between them. So that's the experiment we did.

Recently we videotaped it with new monkeys who'd never done the task, thinking that maybe they would have a stronger reaction, and that turned out to be right. The one on the left is the monkey who gets cucumber. The one on the right is the one who gets grapes. The one who gets cucumber note(s) that the first piece of cucumber is perfectly fine. The first piece she eats. Then she sees the other one getting grape, and you will see what happens. So she gives a rock to us. That's the task. And we give her a piece of cucumber and she eats it. The other one needs to give a rock to us. And that's what she does. And she gets a grape and she eats it. The other one sees that. She gives a rock to us now, gets, again, cucumber.

(audience laugh)

She tests a rock now against the wall. She needs to give it to us. And she gets cucumber again.

(audience laugh)

So this is basically the Wall Street protest that you see here.

© TED

Discussion

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Language level

Intermediate: B1

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Sun, 13/06/2021 - 13:56

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I don’t like a chimp. ;|

Submitted by nikoslado on Sun, 03/05/2020 - 20:57

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Dear Team, I think in Task 1, seventh line, according to in the video reactions of the first monkey, the answer should be the''True''one. I mean, firstly we see this monkey giving back the rock easy, without any other reaction.I think that her testing the rock against the wall it occurs the fact that the other fellow takes grapes instead of cucumbers,so ''she is so angry'' as the test says. Otherwise this reaction of her doesn't make any sense.

Hello nikoslado

When we wrote that question, we were following what the researcher says, which is 'She tests a rock now against the wall', which suggests that the purpose of this action was to confirm that the rock was indeed a rock (and not some trick). I think it's fair to say that she is angry, but 'so angry' seems a little too extreme, which is why we marked that question as False.

Thanks for your input.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Wed, 06/11/2019 - 09:38

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Compared with human beings, this experiment may suggest that there's a difference between a kid raised as an only a child and that with siblings who are close in age. Well... a hierachy may have a good reason in a society of human beings (monkeys)!?

Submitted by fidaasiddig on Tue, 05/11/2019 - 12:06

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Hello Would you explain this(the food preferences of my capuchin monkeys correspond exactly with the prices in the supermarket) I didn't get the whole idea

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 06/11/2019 - 07:53

In reply to by fidaasiddig

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Hello fidaasiddig

It means that the monkeys' preference for grapes over cucumber is similar to the difference in prices in the supermarket -- that is, grapers are more expensive (more preferred) than cucumber. This is not an important observation in this video.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by yuriwm on Mon, 24/06/2019 - 16:23

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It's because the reaction between monkeys and humans is the same when there is unequal reward for equal work.

Submitted by Akmal Karimov on Wed, 22/05/2019 - 11:23

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I guess, there are many similarities between humans and monkeys. Monkeys among animals were very similar to humans.

Submitted by Nunu28 on Mon, 28/01/2019 - 16:27

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In my point of view, monkey is the animal which has the closest brain with human. From that experiment, we can make hypotesis that human perhaps make a similiar strong reaction to inequaty, or may be stronger because human has a bigger brain than monkey, or may be smaller reaction because human has an experience to control emotion.

Submitted by alita on Thu, 22/11/2018 - 22:51

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Basically, we as human, having similar response and reaction toward inequality. Except that human can choice whether to control the anger or eaten by the anger. Here it is where anger management is needed :)

Submitted by febry on Sun, 28/10/2018 - 06:45

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Both has very similar DNA chain.

Submitted by Mohammed001 on Tue, 16/10/2018 - 00:33

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Well, the scientist compared monkeys to humans because humans have the same reaction towards inequity, no matter what colour is the person, to which country he or she belongs or to what background they belong, they have to be treated equally.

Submitted by Brutus Habitat on Mon, 08/10/2018 - 04:48

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Simply because if even animals can recognize inequality, how come human being just ignore it?

Submitted by pureEnglish on Wed, 12/09/2018 - 16:05

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This is very good englisch course.

Submitted by ZettaZurita on Tue, 11/09/2018 - 18:01

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They compare monkeys with us beacuse we do feel the same as monkeys. Sometimes I struggled with hard situation and the higher levels gives us cucumber that taste good at the beginning but when I see the richest levels getting grapes for doing the same as me. I do protest throwing away my cucumber because I want grapes too. They taste better than cucumber for sure.

Submitted by yasmincassetari on Tue, 11/09/2018 - 15:13

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I think that this experiment was very funny. And I learned a new words, like in a row, willing to do something. This course is nice.

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Tue, 11/09/2018 - 14:57

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Studies show that chimps and humans share a 96% similarity in DNA. That's why their reactions remind us of our commonalities! Some people say that the 4% difference (development) was brought by beings from other space (ET) that came to the earth hundreds of years ago. Can you believe that?

Submitted by FrancktheDodger on Tue, 11/09/2018 - 11:44

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The professor compares the behaviour between human beings and monkeys, under pressure of clear inequity. Actually, the experiment shows up their reactions in different species. What makes people laugh is the evidence of similarity in rage when some unfair acts compromises our conditions, it does not matter the level of education and civilization of subjects under exam. Audience may be studied as well, because their reactions to the behaviour of the monkey and then the following comparison between what happened in Wall Street protest and the raging refuse of the little primate are subtile provocations to make analogies and recognize themselves under the same emotional state. Their laughings shows their agreement to the comparison, they do not protest or argue to the professor's comment - they declare sympathetic feelings towards the poor, little monkey and silently confess too their frailty about inequity.

Submitted by Shay_IL on Sun, 09/09/2018 - 16:17

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I think that he compares the reaction to human because he wanted to show that if that there are biological roots that make us, human, act with a stronger reaction to inequity.

Submitted by Albert on Sun, 02/09/2018 - 10:14

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Well, I think behaviour of humans and other animals are pretty much the same. We're striving for food, willing to find a partner and e. g. We even react to inequity the almost the same way, that's why he compared monkeys to humans.

Submitted by Kostya B on Sat, 01/09/2018 - 21:12

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Because we are too similar.

Submitted by Lolwah on Mon, 27/08/2018 - 23:13

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I think because they share many features and characteristics .

Submitted by Babak010 on Mon, 27/08/2018 - 10:20

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hey there i guess just because Darwin's theory ;) :) really i think monkeys have IQ (Intelligence Quotient) more than others (animals). i think the compare is not correct because even humans have different to each others but was the good show for protest to inequity.

Submitted by GridView on Thu, 23/08/2018 - 16:05

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There is a mistake in the test. Task 2 question 4. The man said "stronger" and transcript proves it, but according the system "strong" is right answer.

Hello GridView,

Thank you for pointing this out to us. The word used in the text is, as you say, 'stronger'. I have updated the task so that this is not the correct answer.

We check all our tasks before we publish them but a certain number of errors will always creep through, and it's good to know we have observant users to help us spot them!

Thanks again,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Khouloud Mohammed on Sun, 19/08/2018 - 14:09

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I think he compare the monkey with human because monkey act like humans and do some reaction like them.

Submitted by Alia on Wed, 15/08/2018 - 14:48

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I think that he compared between them because both of them protested against inequity

Submitted by StD on Sat, 11/08/2018 - 10:30

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The man compares the monkeys to humans because both deny to accept inequality.
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