Guess Who's More Spiteful Than Us? Did I Hear Someone Say Monkeys?

Recently a friend I've known (and been competitive with for years) moved to a more affluent town, with a much better high school than the one my son goes to.  Another friend got a snazzy new convertible.

My work contract ended at about the same time.  There's no new one on the horizon.  And I admit it.  I was jealous.

Now scientists are finding that jealousy can lead to, yes, you heard it here first.  Spite.     Studying monkeys, they've found that their reaction to those who have more is exactly that. 

Monkeys, like humans, will take the time and effort to punish others who get more than their fair share, according to a study conducted at Yale. In fact, they can act downright spiteful.

Capuchin monkeys will yank on a rope to collapse a table that is holding a partner monkey’s food. While chimpanzees collapse their partner’s table only after direct personal affronts like theft, capuchins punish more often, even in cases where the other monkey merely had more food, according to a study published online in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

 "Our study provides the first evidence of a non-human primate choosing to punish others simply because they have more,” says Kristin Leimgruber, first author of the paper, at “This sort of, ‘if I can't have it, no one can’ response is consistent with psychological spite, a behavior previously believed unique to humans.”

Of course, it's human to be a little covetous of something someone else has that you really want.  For quite a few years now, both my husband and I have been facing career difficulties so it's hard to always be happy for someone else's success.  But in the end, we have what we need -- maybe not what we want, like that summer house (or even a vacation) in Key West, but a roof over our heads and food on the table, and as far as we know, good health.

What's that saying?  Don't have what you want.   Want what you have.


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