Few things are better than cozying up with a loved one, eating some popcorn and watching a good movie.
The same can now be said for chimpanzees.
In two separate studies researchers have found that, like humans, chimps get the same sense of bonding from watching a movie or TV together.
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“Our results suggest that one of the most basic mechanisms of human social bonding – feeling closer to those with whom we act or attend together – is present in both humans and great apes, and thus has deeper evolutionary roots than previously suspected,” Wouter Wolf and Michael Tomasello wrote in the abstract.
The research was published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
The two studies produced similar results: one study showed that chimps who watched a video together showed more signs of social bonding (such as “grooming and physical play”). The other study involved a chimp and a human, with the chimp approaching humans faster if they watched a video together.
“Becoming socially closer to others through shared experiences such as dancing to music together or communicating about shared experiences has only been described in humans,” Wolf and Tomasello wrote.
They continued: “It has therefore been suggested that this bonding mechanism is uniquely human, explaining (at least in part) why humans have larger social networks with more complex social relationships than other species. The current results imply, however, that some of the basic elements of this social bonding mechanism – eliciting social closeness by visually attending to something together with another individual – are present in humans through shared descent with other apes.”
The researchers used data from 45 primates, mostly chimps and some bonobos and looked for changes in behavior after they had watched a video of separate family chimps playing with one of their young.
And what’s a movie without some snacks? The researchers filled a tube with diluted grape juice and mango juice in an effort to keep the chimps still.
Also, eye-trackers were placed under the monitor to make sure the apes were watching the film.
Speaking with the BBC, Wolf said that sharing experiences creates a common ground, one that is now seen in primates.
“Experiencing and sharing something between two people creates common ground,” Wolf told the news outlet. “If you go to the movies together, you’re sitting side by side. It’s a really social phenomenon.”
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