The monkey and banana experiment

The monkey and banana experiment

On one occasion the following behavioral experiment was carried out. 6 monkeys were placed in a cage, in the center of which was a staircase that allowed to reach a bunch of bananas that hung from the ceiling. As soon as one of the monkeys tried to reach the bananas, everyone was sprayed with ice water which caused him to give up his attempt. This process was repeated as many times as attempts to reach the bananas made the monkeys. Finally, when one of the monkeys tried to reach the bananas, it was his own companions that prevented him from approaching the ladder with blows until the monkey gave up his attempt.

At this point, one of the monkeys is removed from the cage and another is introduced that evidently had not previously participated in the experiment. Shortly after entering the cage, the monkey tries to climb on the stairs to take the bananas, but as soon as he approaches the ladder, his companions add him to blows before the possibility of an icy shower. The new monkey doesn't understand anything, but after several attempts he realizes he can't get close to bananas unless he wants to be beaten.

At this time, another of the monkeys that started the experiment is taken out of the cage and one is introduced that also has no knowledge of its operation. As in the previous case, the monkey tries to grab the bananas and every time he tries, all his cage companions pounce on him to prevent him. The curious note is that the monkey that we introduced in the middle of the experiment and that does not have the experience of having been sprayed with ice water also participates in the aggression although without knowing why. For him, it is simply not allowed to approach the stairs.

Little by little, all the monkeys that started the experiment are replaced by others who have not at any time experienced the fact of having been sprayed with ice water.

When the last monkey in the cage is replaced, the behavior of the apes remains the same, as soon as the new monkey tries to approach the ladder is beaten by his companions, although at this time, nobody knows why since none of them has been sprayed with ice water. A rule has been established: "It is forbidden to climb the ladder and whoever tries it is exposed to repression by the rest of the group."

Perhaps it is true that sometimes monkeys reflect almost human behavior, or perhaps it is humans who sometimes behave like monkeys.

This experiment of monkeys and bananas is a story, a modern fable, was inspired in part by the experiments of GR Stephenson, found in "cultural acquisition of a particular response learned among rhesus monkeys", as well as certain experiments with chimpanzees performed by Wolfgang Köhler, in the 1920s. Through the years, it was assembled to form the urban legend in its current state.