Bonobos are more interested in the feelings of strangers than they are in acquaintances

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Bonobos, along with chimpanzees, are closest to us as humans. We are quite similar, also in terms of social behaviour. However, there are also a number of notable differences, according to new research.

In experiments, researcher Effie van Berloe saw both bonobos and humans pay more attention to certain pictures that show emotion than to neutral pictures. But while our attention is primarily drawn to the images of people we know, bonobos are more quickly drawn to the emotions of strangers.

For the research, Van Berlo trained Apenheul’s bonobos to press a point on a screen. After touching the point, two images appeared very briefly. From both bonobos of the same group and “exotic” species. Some of the images were neutral, others showed emotion.

A dot appeared behind one of these two pictures, which the monkeys had to touch as quickly as possible. The idea behind this study was that monkeys were quicker to touch the point that appeared behind the image that immediately attracted attention. An alternative to this study was also conducted with human visitors to Apenheul.

The study showed that bonobos are more likely to be drawn to the affection of strangers, which is consistent with previous studies showing that bonobos are more attracted to strangers than to well-known people. Perhaps this has something to do with eating enough and being nice to strangers. People often had to compete more for food, and then it would be evolutionarily better to favor members of your group.

Read more: Bonobos, unlike humans, care more about the feelings of strangers than acquaintances.

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