In the dog house?

If you’re feeling badly treated at work, there may be many good reasons for this. One might be the simple fact that you are a highly evolved mammal – for sensitivity to perceived inequity is not the exclusive preserve of homo sapiens, it transpires.

The BBC analysed a recent study in which pack-living, wild dogs and wolves were separated into pairs, and one was given access to a buzzer. When the animal pressed the buzzer, sometimes both would be given a treat; at other times, only the animal that was not doing the work would be rewarded – a patently unfair arrangement. The animals made their feelings very clear. “The key finding,” reports the BBC, “was that when the partner got a high value treat, the animal doing the task refused to continue with it.”

Prior to this study, it was believed that dogs that exhibited this behaviour had learned it from humans during the process of domestication. Now that wolves have shown the same tendencies, this theory has been overturned in favour of the belief that “the behaviour is likely inherited from a common ancestor to both wolves and dogs.” What the study does not reveal is (a) how to make sure that your colleagues are pulling their weight and (b) how to take up the matter with HR is your own efforts are of no avail.

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