Chimpanzees are rational maximizers in an ultimatum game.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Traditional models of economic decision-making assume that people are self-interested rational maximizers. Empirical research has demonstrated, however, that people will take into account the interests of others and are sensitive to norms of cooperation and fairness. In one of the most robust tests of this finding, the ultimatum game, individuals will reject a proposed division of a monetary windfall, at a cost to themselves, if they perceive it as unfair. Here we show that in an ultimatum game, humans' closest living relatives, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), are rational maximizers and are not sensitive to fairness. These results support the hypothesis that other-regarding preferences and aversion to inequitable outcomes, which play key roles in human social organization, distinguish us from our closest living relatives.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jensen, K; Call, J; Tomasello, M

Published Date

  • October 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 318 / 5847

Start / End Page

  • 107 - 109

PubMed ID

  • 17916736

Pubmed Central ID

  • 17916736

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-9203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0036-8075

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1126/science.1145850


  • eng