Young Bonobos, Human Children Have Similar Emotional Responses – Science News

Striking similarities between the emotional development of bonobos and that of human children have been discovered by researchers studying young bonobos in an African sanctuary.


As genetically similar to humans as the chimpanzee is, the bonobo is one of our closest primate relatives. Research supports the idea that the bonobo is the most empathic of the great apes. “This makes the species an ideal candidate for psychological comparisons,” says de Waal. “Any fundamental similarity between humans and bonobos probably traces back to their last common ancestor, which lived around six million years ago…


“By measuring the expression of distress and arousal in great apes, and how they cope, we were able to confirm that efficient emotion regulation is an essential part of empathy. Empathy allows great apes and humans to absorb the distress of others without getting overly distressed themselves,” continues de Waal. This might explain why the traumatized orphan bonobos are less socially competent than their mother-raised peers….