This longitudinal study investigated the development of social contrast-negative responses to inequitable rewards-in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Although responses to inequity by humans appear universal, this is something that develops with age. Infants first recognize inequity when around 18 months old and respond to it only when they are around 3 years old. To date, however, there have been no studies of the ontogeny of the inequity response in any species other than humans. To address this, we used an exchange paradigm, in which 10 pairs of rhesus monkeys had to exchange inedible tokens with the experimenter to get food rewards that differed in quality depending on the condition. All subjects were tested first when they were an average of 17 months old and a subset, of four pairs, was tested again a year later. Subjects responded negatively to contrast-recognizing a disparity in expected, as compared to, received rewards-based on both social and individual comparisons at the older age, but not at the younger age. Similar to humans, rhesus showed a developmental trajectory to social comparison, providing the first evidence for the ontogeny of this response in a non-human species.
Hopper, L.M., Lambeth, S.P., Schapiro, S.J., Bernacky, B.J. & Brosnan, S.F. (2013). The ontogeny of social comparisons by rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Primatology, 2(109). doi: 10.4172/2167-6801.1000109
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