Children, but not great apes, respect ownership.

08:00 EDT 30th April 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Children, but not great apes, respect ownership."

Access to and control of resources is a major source of costly conflicts. Animals, under some conditions, respect what others control and use (i.e., possession). Humans not only respect possession of resources, they also respect ownership. Ownership can be viewed as a cooperative arrangement, where individuals inhibit their tendency to take others' property on the condition that those others will do the same. We investigated to what degree great apes follow this principle, as compared to human children. We conducted two experiments, in which dyads of individuals could access the same food resources. The main test of respect for ownership was whether individuals would refrain from taking their partner's resources even when the partner could not immediately access and control them. Captive apes (N = 14 dyads) failed to respect their partner's claim on food resources and frequently monopolized the resources when given the opportunity. Human children (N = 14 dyads), tested with a similar apparatus and procedure, respected their partner's claim and made spontaneous verbal references to ownership. Such respect for the property of others highlights the uniquely cooperative nature of human ownership arrangements. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Developmental science
ISSN: 1467-7687
Pages: e12842


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An infraorder of PRIMATES comprised of the families CERCOPITHECIDAE (old world monkeys); HYLOBATIDAE (siamangs and GIBBONS); and HOMINIDAE (great apes and HUMANS). With the exception of humans, they all live exclusively in Africa and Asia.

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A suborder of PRIMATES consisting of six families: CEBIDAE (some New World monkeys), ATELIDAE (some New World monkeys), CERCOPITHECIDAE (Old World monkeys), HYLOBATIDAE (gibbons and siamangs), CALLITRICHINAE (marmosets and tamarins), and HOMINIDAE (humans and great apes).

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