Are Apes as Empathetic as Humans? | The Scientist Magazine®

In the absence of complex emotional bonds, humans and bonobos show similar empathy, according to a study.

Contagious yawning has long been linked to empathy: humans and apes yawn more in response to the yawns of their kin and friends.

Now, scientists studying yawn contagion have shown that humans may not always be the most empathetic species. Their results, published today (August 12) in PeerJ, show that humans yawn more than bonobos only when close family and friends trigger the yawns. In the presence of mere acquaintances, however, humans and bonobos showed similar yawn sensitivity.

“It seems that the basal level of empathetic capacity is the same in the two species,” 


By Shreya Dasgupta