morality, evolution, primates, empathy, fairness, Darwin


Darwin offered an evolutionary perspective on the origins of human morality, suggesting that humans share a biological foundation with nonhuman primates. This paper reviews the current literature on moral and prosocial behaviors of nonhuman primates, specifically examining whether nonhuman primates exhibit behaviors that are typical of empathy and fairness. The literature documents that nonhuman primates exhibit empathetic behaviors regarding emotional contagion and sympathetic concern. There is also evidence that nonhuman primates have a sense of fairness, seen in their reciprocal behaviors and aversion to inequity. Taken together, this suggests that there are evolutionary roots of morality, lending empirical support to Darwin’s theory.