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Punishment, a social strategy for kids and chimpanzees

the researcher Nereida Bueno-Guerra has taken part in the study led by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig (Germany).

the researcher Nereida Bueno-Guerra has taken part in the study led by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig (Germany).

The article published verifies that kids and chimpanzees share similar psychological mechanisms destined to find a punishment for those who made them upset.

The article published verifies that kids and chimpanzees share similar psychological mechanisms destined to find a punishment for those who made them upset.

Chimpanzees don't show a motivation to see punishments on others when they have not been affected.

Chimpanzees don't show a motivation to see punishments on others when they have not been affected.

09/01/2018

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Are kids able to bear watching how someone who did them wrong is punished? Everything points out that preschool children, and chimpanzees too, value fair punishments –even if it involves a sacrifice for them-, according to a study published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour with the participation of the researcher Nereida Bueno-Guerra within the frame of her research at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Barcelona.

 

The idea of punishment is present in several facets of human activity. This new study, led by experts from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig (Germany), is based on a series of experiments conducted on preschool children (aged from four to six) and chimpanzees, which are close primates to the human species in the phylogenetic scale. In the study, the experts explore the underlying psychologic mechanisms of the punishment as a strategy to get others fulfil social rules and guarantee cooperation in society.


How are fair punishments valued?


Schadenfreue is a German word that defines the feeling of happiness coming from another’s suffering or unhappiness. Taken from that perspective, everything suggests phylogenetic roots of motivation to seek revenge are common among chimpanzees and humans aged over six, “since they are willing to pay –in some way- to see how someone who took them something is punished”, says Nereida Bueno-Guerra.


The article published in Nature Human Behaviour verifies that both species share similar psychological mechanisms destined to find a punishment for those who made them upset. According to the conclusions, kids aged six and chimpanzees have a bigger motivation to see how someone is fairly punished, even if it has a cost.  


However, kids aged four and five did not show clear behaviours in this experiment, “probably because, despite understanding the situation, they are not able to distinguish how to act”, says Bueno-Guerra, currently researcher at the Comillas Pontifical University. With chimpanzees, these do not show a motivation to see punishments on others when they have not been affected.

 

 

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