The Five Monkeys

In Stephenson 1966 experiment “Cultural Acquisition of a Specific Learned Response Among Rhesus Monkeys”, we get a clear picture of how an idea can propagate itself even though those who are propagating the idea do not provide any justification for doing so.

Nietzsche speaks to this phenomenon in his essays in On The Genealogy of Morals. We are raised into a culture with a predetermined value system and few among us ever question why we conform to it. Questioning one’s values is the first step in understanding why they are in place to begin with and if they are even the right ones.

The phenomenon described in this experiment can also quite easily we witnessed in many companies and institutions. Why are things done the way they are? Because that’s how it has always been done around here.

You can find the research paper published by Stephenson here.