• Curious about veganism or vegetarianism? Why not ask us a question? (You don't have to sign up, or be vegan or vegetarian!)

Psychology Animals know when they are being treated unfairly

Indian Summer

Cult Leader
Humans beings appear to be hardwired to have a sense of fairness. This is puzzling from an evolutionary perspective, which you would have thought would mean we were predisposed to seek advantage for ourselves and our families wherever possible. But in fact a sense of fairness is important for humans to be able to help each other. Human cooperation is based on reciprocal altruism – we help people because they’ve either helped us in the past or they may help us in the future.

This form of cooperation is only possible when individuals are able to keep track of other individuals’ efforts and payoffs – and a sense of fairness helps with this. But what about non-human animals? Is sense of fairness unique in differentiating humans from other animals or has it evolved in other non-human animals too?
More: Animals know when they are being treated unfairly (and they don't like it) (21. February, 2017)


Ankle Biter
My dogs certainly know when they are not treated equally. Try giving one or two a treat, but not all and you'll see all kinds of stress behavior. Sometimes I think they can even count.


Stranger in a strange land
There was a British TV program I watched recently, comparing the abilities of cats and dogs. Dogs seemed to have a pretty good idea whether an amount was lesser or greater than another. (Cats could also do this a little bit.)
Actually, chickens have even better mathematical skills than dogs. They can count up to seven.

But yes, it's quite evident that nonhuman animals have concepts of fairness and unequal treatment.