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Why Your Boss Is Such an Ape

When a subordinate chimpanzee grooms a dominant one, it often does so for a long time and unsolicited. When it then requests to be groomed in turn, it receives only a brief grooming and usually after having to ask a second time.

This gorgeous little juxtaposition of tales comes from a new book by Dario Maestripieri of the University of Chicago, who is both a professor and a primatologist (and a primate). His book, called “Games Primates Play,” is devoted to ramming home a lesson that we all seem very reluctant to learn: that much of our behavior, however steeped in technology, is entirely predictable to primatologists.

The most intriguing chapter is Cooperate in the Spotlight, Compete in the Dark:

He describes how people, like monkeys, can be angels of generosity when all eyes are on them, but devils of spite in private. Famously, the citizens of New York City turned to crime when the lights went out in the blackout of July 13, 1977—not because they were evil but because the cost-benefit calculus was altered by the darkness.

Still curious? Check out Games Primates Play.

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