[Science] Chimps bond with each other and people after watching a film together – AI

0
65
[Science] Chimps bond with each other and people after watching a film together – AI


Shared experiences may mean a lot to chimpsFiona Rogers/Getty By Michael Le PageChimpanzees who watch a short film together with a human or another chimpanzee are more likely to approach that individual or to spend time near them. This shows they feel closer to those they have shared an experience with, just like we do. “To our surprise, we found that the chimps were also sensitive to this,” says Wouter Wolf of Duke University in North Carolina. It’s widely recognised that shared experiences can bring people closer together, making them more likely to interact. For instance, after England recently won the Cricket World Cup in an astoundingly close finish, strangers in the stands hugged each other. Advertisement “Shared experiences open a psychological door between people,” says Wolf. After studying this phenomenon in people, he wondered whether it exists in apes too. He and colleague Michael Tomasello got chimpanzees at a zoo in Leipzig, Germany, and a human unfamiliar to them to watch a one-minute video of young chimps playing. Read more: Great apes read peoples’ minds and help those with false beliefs Sometimes the computer screen was placed so both the chimp and the person could see it and each other, and sometimes it was placed so only the chimp could see it. The film was chosen to be interesting enough to keep the animals’ attention but not to feature adult chimps as that could be too arousing. Eye-tracking was used to confirm that the animals were watching the video and also looking to see if the human was watching too. Afterwards the chimps approached the human who watched the video with them faster – 15 seconds on average versus 28 seconds. Wolf then did another experiment at a chimpanzee sanctuary in Uganda with pairs of chimpanzees. Sometimes a single screen was angled so both chimpanzees could see it and each other, and sometimes two back-to-back screens were used so the animals could see each other but not what the other animal was watching. Afterwards the animals were left to do whatever they wanted for three minutes. Those who saw each other watching the same video were nearly twice as likely to stay in the same part of the same room and sometimes groomed each other. Those who could not see what the other was watching never groomed but sometimes fought. Read more: DeepMind AI is learning to understand the ‘thoughts’ of others It has been known for some time that apes understand what others are seeing, says Wolf. This is usually thought about in terms of competition – if a chimp takes food that another animal higher up the hierarchy had their eye on, for instance, they will be punished. But this finding shows there are also more positive social aspects to this ability. Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0488     More on these topics: animals