Do Our Monkey Brains Understand Fairness?

Fairness is a central element of human morality, but it is also an instinct of our primate brethren. An attendee of a Slicing Pie event in Seattle brought this to my attention (thanks Jim!) by sharing a fascinating video of how monkeys behave when they sense unfairness.

In my experience, humans also have an innate sense of what is fair and unfair. This monkey-brain sense is often suppressed by our human-brain rationalization. When it comes to unfair traditional equity splits, people think, “this feels unfair, but everyone else does it this way and my lawyer gave me all these confusing contracts and everyone on the team is on board so it must be fair…or am I getting screwed?”

Unlike the monkey who refuses to cooperate when things are unfair, the human becomes slowly demoralized and unmotivated until one day a fight breaks out because the unfairness is too much to bear.

Slicing Pie, on the other hand, provides a logical, unambiguous model for creating a fair split so out monkey brains are calm allowing our human brains to get to work!

  • Pjamers

    I attended you workshop in Seattle last week. It was completely worth my time! The slicing pie model creates scaffolding around an otherwise difficult topic to navigate. Thanks Mike for bringing this tool to the start-up community!

    • Thanks for attending! I’m glad you could make it! I like the term “scaffolding” to describe the structure!