Monday, July 22, 2002

Another cruel and useless chimpanzee behavioral study is being performed by University of Louisiana researcher Daniel Povinelli.


Beware collective judgment

...To gain an understanding of just what is collective judgment, we often use an experiment that was done with chimps. Five were placed in an enclosure and allowed to become hungry as a group.

Then a banana was placed in the upper corner of the cage. Of course, all the chimps raced to get control of the food. As the banana was about to be taken, the entire group was doused with freezing cold water.

They learned to back away from the food very quickly. This same sequence happened a number of times. Then, one of the chimps was replaced leaving four originals in place.

When the new chimp saw the food, it raced to get it only to be roundly blocked and punished by the other chimps.

He learned to stay back and cower in the corner with the others when food was placed in the cage.

Over several occurrences, the original chimps were replaced one by one until none of the original animals were present in the enclosure.

Therefore, none of them had any experience with the cold water that the originals learned to avoid. Yet, all five of the new chimps learned to behave the same way as the originals when food was introduced.

These new chimps were now behaving in way that was not caused by the same experience as the original group.

They had formed a collective judgment that the food would lead to problems but had no basis for their judgment except for the actions of their peers.

That is exactly what collective judgment is about in organizations....