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Apes Display Emotions after Losing Gamble

May 30, 2013 08:59 AM EDT
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Chimpanzees and bonobos show emotions like anger and sadness after losing a game of chance the same way as humans do, according to a new study. Previously, it was believed that only humans display temper tantrums after losing out in a task.

The study was conducted by researchers from Yale University and the Duke University.

In the current study, chimpanzees and bonobos had to choose between two problems; in one option, they had to choose between waiting longer for a better treat or getting a less-preferred treat. In the second, they'd get a treat only after they waited for a longer time, however, there was a catch: if the risk didn't pay off, the apes would get a less-preferred treat.

Researchers found that both chimps and bonobos could wait longer to get a good treat and displayed emotions after getting the treat. Both species displayed signs of rage and anger when the risk didn't pay off. In the risky choice test, the apes would even try to change their choice if they realized that they'd taken a wrong option.

Most of the emotions displayed by the apes were species-specific. But in some cases, the emotions were specific to the individual, researchers found.

"Psychologists and economists have found that emotions play a critical role in shaping how humans make complex decisions, such as decisions about saving or investing money. But it was not known if these processes are shared with other animals when they make decisions about their important resources--such as food," said Alexandra Rosati from Yale University, reports Science Daily.

The study is published in the journal PLOS One.                                                              

Previous research had shown that like humans, apes suffer from mid-life crises.

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