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.

Related Articles


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 December 19, 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 December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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