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 August 30, 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 August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. 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