Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Evidence of a 'mid-life crisis' in great apes

Date:
November 19, 2012
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
Chimpanzees and orangutans can experience a mid-life crisis just like humans, a study suggests.

Chimpanzees and orangutans can experience a mid-life crisis just like humans, a study suggests.
Credit: Smileus / Fotolia

Chimpanzees and orangutans can experience a mid-life crisis just like humans, a study suggests.

This is the finding from a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that set out to test the theory that the pattern of human well-being over a lifespan might have evolved in the common ancestors of humans and great apes.

An international team of researchers, including economist Professor Andrew Oswald from the University of Warwick and psychologist Dr Alex Weiss from the University of Edinburgh, discovered that, as in humans, chimpanzee and orangutan well-being (or happiness) follows a U shape and is high in youth, falls in middle age, and rises again into old age.

The authors studied 508 great apes housed in zoos and sanctuaries in the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and Singapore. The apes' well-being was assessed by keepers, volunteers, researchers and caretakers who knew the apes well. Their happiness was scored with a series of measures adapted from human subjective well-being measures.

Professor Oswald said: "We hoped to understand a famous scientific puzzle: why does human happiness follow an approximate U-shape through life? We ended up showing that it cannot be because of mortgages, marital breakup, mobile phones, or any of the other paraphernalia of modern life. Apes also have a pronounced midlife low, and they have none of those."

The study is the first of its kind and the authors knew their work was likely to be unconventional. Dr Weiss said: "Based on all of the other behavioural and developmental similarities between humans, chimpanzees, and orang-utans, we predicted that there would be similarities when looking at happiness over the lifespan, too. However, one never knows how these things will turn out, so it's wonderful when they are consistent with findings from so many other areas."

The team included primatologists and psychologists from Japan and the United States. In the paper the team point out that their findings do not rule out the possibility that economic events or social and cultural forces contribute part of the reason for the well-being U shape in humans. However, they highlight the need to consider evolutionary or biological explanations. For example, individuals being satisfied at stages of their life where they have fewer resources to improve their lot may be less likely to encounter situations that could be harmful to them or their families.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alexander Weiss, James E. King, Miho Inoue-Murayama, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, and Andrew J. Oswald. Evidence for a midlife crisis in great apes consistent with the U-shape in human well-being. PNAS, November 19, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1212592109

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Evidence of a 'mid-life crisis' in great apes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119151311.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2012, November 19). Evidence of a 'mid-life crisis' in great apes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119151311.htm
University of Warwick. "Evidence of a 'mid-life crisis' in great apes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119151311.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins