Elderly people and chimpanzees choose their friends in a similar way

Scientists at Harvard University in the United States have found similarities in the way chimpanzees and older people choose their friends. An article with the results of the research was published by the scientific journal Science.

There is a perception that older people choose their friends more carefully because they want to make the most of the remaining time. Chimpanzees are intelligent primates, but they are not aware of the finiteness of life. Most likely, some other processes are taking place in their minds that explain why in old age their relations with others become more positive.

Richard Wrangham, one of the study authors, professor at Harvard University in the USA

Although there is evidence that some animals still understand the finiteness of life. However, it is unlikely that they have the same impending sense of mortality that humans experience. Thus, the results of the study suggest that a different, deeper mechanism is at work here.

Scientists have observed how primates communicate with each other, what relationships they are in, and how their social habits change with age. The monkeys studied included both relatively young individuals, 15 years old, and elderly chimpanzees, who have lived for over 40 years.

It turned out that older individuals communicate with their peers differently than younger ones. The young had a fairly wide social circle, they also looked after their relatives, expecting nothing in return. But the elderly individuals, on the contrary, had much fewer friends but maintained warmer relations with them.

Chimpanzees are virtually indistinguishable from humans in this regard, according to Wrangham and his colleagues. People with age also choose their friends more carefully and also prefer to behave with them as positive as possible. So far, scientists cannot say for sure whether this feature of the psychology of humans and chimpanzees has a common neurophysiological and genetic connection.