Can monkeys be jealous? They want to take over the world so I’m going to say a profound “YES!”. But let this article from the Harvard Crimson (oooh Ivy league!) explain:

Steven Pinker, Jane Goodall and Richard Wrangham sit on the tenth floor of William James Hall munching on Froot Loops. They shriek in unison whenever a stranger enters the room, and they poop all the time.

Ever met a PhD? This is a typical response.

But it’s OK—they’re monkeys.

Pinker, Goodall, and Wrangham are members of a colony of approximately 24 cotton-top tamarins that dwell in Harvard’s Cognitive Evolutionary Laboratory.

Or as the rest of the world know them by: The Hasty Pudding Theatricals

But beyond the monkey business, there is serious work being done. Another researcher, Kyle J. Foreman ’08, is working on a senior thesis—inspired by economic theory, of all things—that tests whether monkeys ever get jealous.

Foreman’s thesis was inspired by an economic theory that proposes the ability to behave altruistically or spitefully benefits an individual in the long term. Consideration of inequalities in rewards is common among humans, but Foreman’s question is whether perceived inequality could make tamarins engage in spiteful behavior, sacrificing a small reward in order to deny another monkey a larger one.

In almost every case, Foreman says, his monkeys act out of self-interest, with no consideration of rewards (in the form of Froot Loops) to other monkeys.

The monkeys (as I have warned) are out for themselves and will do anything to succeed. Just like beauty contestants and we know how devious they can be.

And they can be greedy too:

Some of the lab’s most interesting insights come unexpectedly.

“One day I go into the colony room, and see a female hanging upside down, with her vaginal area facing a heater fan in the room,” Hauser writes in an e-mail. “I can’t quite understand why. Then I see her urinate into the fan, and bingo, a new function.”

The monkey, Hauser says, had found a particularly efficient way to mark her territory.

“This female had worked out how to maximize technology,” Hauser writes, “spraying her urine all over the colony room.”

I know a guy who dated a girl like that once…

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