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Chimpanzees of a feather sit together: Friendships are based on similar personalities

Date:
October 9, 2013
Source:
University of Vienna
Summary:
Like humans, many animals have close and stable friendships. However, until now, it has been unclear what makes particular individuals bond. Cognitive biologists have now found that chimpanzees choose for friends those who are similar to them in personality.

Chimpanzee Tushi.
Credit: (Copyright: Jorg Massen

Like humans, many animals have close and stable friendships. However, until now, it has been unclear what makes particular individuals bond. Cognitive Biologists of the University of Vienna, Austria, and the University of Zurich, Switzerland, explored the question and found that chimpanzees choose their friendships based on similarity of personality.

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The results of this study appear in the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behaviour.

Jorg Massen (University of Vienna) and Sonja Koski (University of Zurich) together measured chimpanzee personality in two zoos with behavioural experiments and years of observations of chimpanzee behaviour. They also carefully logged which chimpanzee sat in body contact with whom most. "This is a clear sign of friendship among chimpanzees," explains Jorg Massen. Subsequently, the researchers tested, if those chimpanzees who sit together frequently have similar or different personality types.

"We found that, especially among unrelated friends, the most sociable and bold individuals preferred the company of other highly sociable and bold individuals, whereas shy and less sociable ones spent time with other similarly aloof and shy chimpanzees," says the researcher. The researchers argue that such a strong preference for self-like individuals is probably adaptive, because frequent cooperation becomes more reliable when both partners have similar behavioural tendencies and emotional states.

This finding strongly resembles the known "similarity effect" in humans: We tend to make friends with people who are equally extraverted, friendly and bold as ourselves. "It appears that what draws and keeps both chimpanzee and human friends together is similarity in gregariousness and boldness, suggesting that preference for self-like friends dates back to our last common ancestor," ends Jorg Massen.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jorg J.M. Massen, Sonja E. Koski. Chimps of a feather sit together: chimpanzee friendships are based on homophily in personality. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.08.008

Cite This Page:

University of Vienna. "Chimpanzees of a feather sit together: Friendships are based on similar personalities." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009100225.htm>.
University of Vienna. (2013, October 9). Chimpanzees of a feather sit together: Friendships are based on similar personalities. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009100225.htm
University of Vienna. "Chimpanzees of a feather sit together: Friendships are based on similar personalities." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009100225.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

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