Frans deWaal Examines Whether Chimps Have a Sense of Fairness

You might think of "morality" as special for humans, but there are elements of it that are found in the animal kingdom, says Frans de Waal, director of Emory University's Living Links Center, namely, fairness and reciprocity. His latest study, published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that chimpanzees may show some of the same sensibility about fairness that humans do.

The popular belief that the natural world is based on competition is a simplification, de Waal says. The strength of one's immune system, and the ability to find food, are also crucial. And many animals survive by cooperating.

"The struggle for life is not necessarily literally a struggle," he said. "Humans are a highly cooperative species, and we can see in our close relatives where that comes from."