Two Monkeys Were Paid Unequally, See What Happens Next

For those of you who know me or read some of my other articles, you know that I have an academic background in science — and I love science! I actually loved doing experiments and research — so imagine my surprise when I saw this excerpt related to two things that I dig — science and HR-related matters.

So first, some of the things that make this cool — just the primal drive for all things that are “fair” and “equal” — the monkey on the left knows immediately what is going on and his actions cry out “hey, that’s not fair” … actually it was more, “hey, that’s not fair and I don’t want your stupid cucumber — I know the grape is better.” Honestly — I’m not all that surprised by the result — are you? You may have been around children, or even remember times yourself as a child when you said, “that’s not fair!” But its neat to see the physical response of the monkey on the left.   (sidenote: I might add, I am not sure that “equal” and “fair” are the same thing.)

I’m not sure that I want to venture too far into a “fair” and “equal” discussion (hey, its an early Saturday morning and I’m a bit off my game) — also if you’ve seen some of my photos — I have multiple cultures and backgrounds (as do many of us) — so I bring to this discussion a my own perspectives of what I see and have observed — even when talking just about gender inequalities and leaving anything racial out of it. I’m not interested in having “THAT” discussion either — but what I will say, is that I think that while this an easy display of a reaction to what is perceived as in-equal — I think that it may only be part of the picture.  Pay equality, at least in the US, is not this simple.  Plus, I don’t know much about the social constructs of this type of monkey. However, while many people might focus on the monkey on the left – -what about the monkey on the right — seems to be okay that they are doing the same thing and he gets grapes and the other monkey gets cucumber — what, if anything, does that say? Also, by rejecting the cucumber, is there some parallel between understanding what one is worth in terms of compensation?

This is only an excerpt from de Waal’s study and the clip below is only an piece of what he presented at the TED Talk — so I’d be curious to know more about the conditions and scope of the entire study — and what was the overall goal (hypothesis to be tested). What would happen if the monkey on the right was paid in grapes, and THEN cucumber? What would happen if the monkey on the right had to give two rocks to get a grape and the monkey on the left still only had to give one?I don’t know — I guess that there are tons of permutations. I’ve also been saying “he” in reference to the monkeys — I have no idea their sex — but wouldn’t it be curious to know what the genders where and if different combinations gave different results?

I’m not sure that I have any ground breaking to conclude — but I just wanted to share, especially in light of some of the recent discussions on the  Fair Pay Act.  But if YOU have any thoughts or conclusions that you want to share —  love to hear ’em!

What was your reaction to the clip? Are there any parallels or similarities to what we are seeing with people?

Making the HR connection, yours,

 

 

 

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