When your neighbor asks to borrow a cup of sugar and you readily comply, is your positive response a function of the give and take that characterize your longstanding relationship? Or does it represent payment — or prepayment — for the cup of sugar you borrowed last week, or may need to borrow a month from now?

Adrian Jaeggi, a postdoctoral researcher in anthropology at UC Santa Barbara, and a junior research fellow at the campus’s SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, is studying this question of reciprocity, using chimpanzees and bonobos as his test subjects. His findings appear in the current online issue of the journal Evolution & Human Behavior.

“The article focuses on the question of whether individuals do favors because they expect them to be reciprocated at some other time, and, more specifically, whether such exchanges have to happen immediately, or can take place over longer time spans,” Jaeggi explained. “We studied the question in chimpanzees and bonobos — our two closest living relatives — and looked at the exchanges of grooming and food sharing, which are two common types of favors among these apes.”

Read more at Science Daily.

Published On: November 26, 2012

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