In humans, a nice hug and some sympathy can normally help a bit after we get pushed around. Now, it’s known that chimpanzees also use hugs and kisses the same way. And it works! Researchers studying human's closest genetic relatives, the chimpanzees, found that stress was reduced in chimpanzees who were victims of aggression if a third chimpanzee stepped in to offer consolation.
The findings were reported recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was done by
The result was a reduction of stress behavior among the chimpanzees, such as scratching or self-grooming by the victim of aggression, reported
"This study removes doubt that consolation really does what the term suggests: provide relief to distressed parties after conflict. The evidence is compelling and makes it likely that consolation behavior is an expression of empathy,"
That behavior in children includes touching and hugging of distressed family members and "is in fact identical to that of apes, and so the comparison is not far-fetched," he said. But, while chimpanzees show this empathy, monkeys do not, he added.
Previous research on conflict among chimpanzees concentrated on cases where there were reconciliation between victim and aggressor, with little attention to intervention by a third party.
The latest research result shows that chimpanzees calm distressed recipients of aggression by consoling them with a friendly gesture. But, consolation is most likely to occur, that is by hugs and kisses, between chimpanzees who already have valuable relationships, concludes chief researcher
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