The desire to punish anti-social and uncooperative behavior is evidently evolutionary. This is evidenced by an experiment with chimpanzees at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. One caregivers gave them food, another took it away for no reason. Another person pretended to beat both caregivers with a stick. To see how the unpopular caregiver was punished, the monkeys even opened heavy doors. However, they protested loudly against the alleged punishment of the friendly caregiver.
Helping and supporting one another has become self-evident for us in the course of our evolution and a prerequisite for peaceful coexistence. In this behavior, we humans are therefore very similar to our closest relatives, the great apes.
In order to promote cooperation, humans and chimpanzees reward members of their respective species with favors. Conversely, Homo sapiens punishes fellow human beings who behave antisocially and even feel malicious pleasure or “Schadenfreude”, when someone is reprimanded for their antisocial behavior. So far, however, it was not clear when this social behavior trait developed in humans and whether we share this property with our closest relatives.
The experiments reveal that apes are also willing to make an effort to ensure anti-social behavior is sanctioned.
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