Several primate species form expectations based on other’s outcomes. These individuals respond negatively when their outcomes differ from their partners’. The function and evolutionary pathway of this behavior are unknown, in part because all of the species which have thus far shown the response have similar life history patterns. In particular, all share traits related to a gregarious lifestyle, intelligence, and cooperativeness. The goal of the current paper was to test whether inequity is a homology among primates or a convergence based on some other characteristic by comparing one species known to show social comparisons, the chimpanzee, to another great ape which differs on several of these life history characteristics. Using a protocol identical to one used previously with chimpanzees, we tested whether orangutans, an intelligent but predominantly solitary species with few opportunities to cooperate, responded similarly. To allow for a strong comparison with chimpanzees (and other species), we used socially housed adults of both sexes, tested with members of their social group. We find that orangutans do not respond negatively to inequity, supporting previous findings and indicating that inequity responses in apes are likely a convergence based on either sociality or cooperative tendency. These results in such closely related species highlight the need for additional comparative studies to better understand the function and evolution of social behaviors.
Brosnan, S.F., Flemming, T., Talbot, C.F., Mayo, L., & Stoinski, T. (2011). Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) do not form expectations based on their partner’s outcomes. Folia Primatologica, 82(1), 56-70. doi: 10.1159/000328142