Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Empathy chimpanzees offer is key to understanding human engagement

Date:
March 11, 2014
Source:
Emory Health Sciences
Summary:
New findings show that chimpanzees exhibit flexibility in their empathy, just as humans do. This may help explain the evolution of how and when humans engage with others and choose to offer flexibility, and how we can do so more.

Katie yawning.
Credit: Image courtesy of Yerkes National Primate Research Center

In their latest study about empathy, Yerkes National Primate Research Center researchers Matthew Campbell, PhD, and Frans de Waal, PhD, have shown chimpanzees exhibit flexibility in their empathy, just as humans do. These findings, which appear in the current issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, may help explain the evolution of how and when humans engage with others and choose to offer flexibility, and how we can do so more.

While it's been long known that human empathy can extend to family, friends, strangers and even other species, it has been unknown until now whether nonhumans are similarly broad in their empathic responses. To answer this question, Campbell and de Waal used contagious yawning as a measure of involuntary empathy. According to Campbell, "Copying the facial expressions of others helps us to adopt and understand their current state."

The researchers found chimpanzees showed contagious yawning to familiar chimpanzees, familiar humans, and unfamiliar humans, but not to unfamiliar chimpanzees or an unfamiliar species (gelada baboons). "That humans known and unknown elicited empathy similarly to group members, and more than unknown chimpanzees, shows flexibility in engagement," says Campbell. "We can use this information to try to influence this flexible response in order to increase empathy toward unfamiliar chimpanzees, and we hope we will be able to apply such knowledge to humans as well," Campbell continues.

This study is a follow up to a study published in 2009 that showed contagious yawning in chimpanzees is not just a marker of sleepiness or boredom, but that it is a sign of a social connection between individuals. Campbell and de Waal have continued their work to better understand empathy as a window into social and emotional connections between individuals in order to help break down barriers among humans.

This study was funded by the FIRST program, NIH/NIGMS (USA) IRACDA grant no. K12 GM000680, the National Center for Research Resources P51RR000165 and is currently supported by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs/OD P51OD011132, and the Living Links Center at Yerkes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Emory Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. W. Campbell, F. B. M. de Waal. Chimpanzees empathize with group mates and humans, but not with baboons or unfamiliar chimpanzees. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2014; 281 (1782): 20140013 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0013

Cite This Page:

Emory Health Sciences. "Empathy chimpanzees offer is key to understanding human engagement." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311124202.htm>.
Emory Health Sciences. (2014, March 11). Empathy chimpanzees offer is key to understanding human engagement. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311124202.htm
Emory Health Sciences. "Empathy chimpanzees offer is key to understanding human engagement." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140311124202.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
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