Is a sense of inequity an ancestral primate trait? Testing social inequity in cotton top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus).
To address a controversy in the literature concerning whether monkeys show an aversion to inequity, individuals of a New World monkey species, cotton top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) were tested in an offering task and in a bartering task. At issue was whether the monkeys rejected rewards because of a violation of expectancy of the preferred reward, or whether they rejected rewards because of a sensitivity to socially mediated inequity. The data from both tasks indicated that the subjects were more likely to reject when preferred rewards were presented, either because of another animal eating the reward (the social condition) or because of rewards being presented but inaccessible. The bartering task led to the only behavioral indication of aversion due specifically to social inequity, which was demonstrated when tamarins' sensitivity to the difference in rewards increased with exposure to other tamarins working to receive the preferred rewards. The results suggest that social inequity aversion will be assessed by tamarins, and possibly by other primates, only under conditions of limited resources and a requirement of work, which may make the situation a bit more competitive and thus drives attention toward both social and reward evaluation. Copyright 2009 APA, all rights reserved.