Chimpanzees like to share experiences and it helps them bond just like humans

As is the case for humans, chimpanzees like to share experiences together and it helps them to bond. Sharing experiences together is a basis for friendship. And the experiences can be mundane and need not be interactive between themselves.

Chimp with TV remote control
Chimp with TV remote control. Picture on RACHEL MAYERI website.

This is the result of a study by Woulter Wolf of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. He thinks that when humans watch a film together and don’t interact with each other it is rather strange that if one person during the film prefers to play with their mobile phone the other person becomes upset. But he discovered that in sharing experiences like this it helped to foster their friendship.

He decided to see whether the same reaction occurred with chimpanzees, our close cousins.

He chose to show them a video. The difficult part was finding a video which they could watch without being provoked into doing dominance displays or becoming completely disinterested and disengaged.

He discovered that chimpanzees like to look at footage of juvenile chimpanzees playing. It’s a chimpanzee version of a home movie. He had a chimpanzee sitting down with humans and with chimpanzees. He discovered that the results were the same for both. On each occasion chimpanzees were keen on being together if they had watched TV together.

He concluded that the simple act of having the same experience even if the experience was mundane and even if there was no interaction between themselves, was enough to give them a shared basis for friendship.

It’s a form of very simple socialisation which is, it seems, important to us and our great ape cousins.

“The fact that we find the same mechanisms in great apes validates that this is indeed an old emotional mechanism. In a way it helps explain part of who we are.”

Comment: I much prefer seeing a beautiful landscape with my girlfriend. It makes the experience better. Now I know why. It enhances our relationship which feels good.