Human and Ape Empathy One and the Same

Empathy is universal across different species, new research suggests. After comparing the “yawn contagion” effect between humans and bonobos, researchers found that having a relationship carries significantly greater weight in stirring empathy than belonging to the same species.

“Emotional contagion” is the most basic form
of empathy, the ability to experience feelings
of another individual.

“Emotional contagion” happens when feelings disclosed by facial expressions (for example sorrow, pain, happiness or tiredness) are passed from an “emitting face” to a “receiving face”. Mirroring the sender’s facial expression will trigger similar emotion in the recipient.

 The findings are published in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ.