It has been reported that capuchin monkeys reject a less preferred food (LPF) when they see a partner capuchin receive a more preferred food (PF) for performing the same task. This behaviour was taken as evidence of ‘inequity aversion’, but an alternative hypothesis is that capuchins reject the LPF because of the mere presence of the PF. We tested this hypothesis in a paradigm, which consisted of presenting two different foods (one PF and one LPF) on a tray and allowing the capuchin to take only the LPF. Refusals to initiate the trial and refusals to take and eat the LPF were higher when the PF was hidden (hiding condition) and when the PF was accumulated in sight but out of reach of the subject (accumulation condition) compared to when two pieces of LPF were placed on the tray (control condition). Interestingly, the subject behaved as in the control condition when its partner was given and ate the PF (partner condition). We argue that capuchins' refusals were due to the frustration of seeing and not obtaining the PF, and that seeing the partner eating increases the LPF acceptance.