We were trying to answer questions about whether monkeys are able to behave in an economic way.
what would happen if you trained a low-ranking vervet monkey to do things that other vervet monkeys, even high-ranking monkeys, couldn’t do?
Roughly an hour after she’d open the container for everyone, she was getting groomed a lot more, as much as a high-ranking monkey, and she no longer had to do hardly any grooming herself. But that was not the most spectacular finding.
So what then did, is we got a second low-ranking female, trained her to open a second container with apples in it, and then we saw that the value of the first provider dropped, more or less, to the half of what she had before. So now we had a competition between two animals. Both of them could provide this good, these apples, and so the value of the first one dropped down again. And of the second one who was very low at the beginning of the experiment, she went up. And they ended up both in the middle, so to speak.
Animals that cannot form binding contracts, animals that cannot talk about what they want to do or cannot offer verbally or anything – they nevertheless are quite accurate in adapting their behavior to what the market gives them.
monkeys arrive at these economic outcomes not through sitting down and negotiation, but through feeling and emotion.