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The Interdisciplinary Science of Consumption$
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Stephanie D. Preston, Morten L. Kringelbach, and Brian Knutson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027670

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027670.001.0001

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Reciprocity in Primates

Reciprocity in Primates

(p.3) 1 Reciprocity in Primates
The Interdisciplinary Science of Consumption

Sarah F. Brosnan

Frans B. M. de Waal

Proctor Darby

The MIT Press

Since animals devote large portions of their waking hours acquiring the food necessary for survival, why do they sometimes give it away? This behavior, called food sharing, is relatively simple to explain in some contexts, such as mothers feeding their dependent offspring. However, in other cases sharing occurs between unrelated individuals, requiring additional explanation. In some cases, food sharing is apparently reciprocal. That is, individuals may exchange favors such that the short-term costs of providing food (or other commodities) now are offset by the long term benefits of receiving goods or services in return at some point in the future. One inherent risk in exchanging favors is that some individuals may take advantage of the system and not reciprocate. How then, do individuals ensure optimal partnerships? We propose that decisions to share food with others are likely based on affective signals associated with the individuals’ relationships. In this chapter, we discuss the data on food sharing in non-human primates and conclude that they, like other species, may use emotions as guides for decisions to allocate resources.

Keywords:   Reciprocity, Primates, Food sharing, Emotions, Resource allocation

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