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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How chimpanzees are just like humans: They laugh at jokes to bond even if they are not funny


Having a giggle: Chimpanzees appeared to use laughter to strengthen social bonds, just like humans

Chimpanzees mimic the laughter of their playmates even if they do not find the situation as funny, scientists said today.

Research by Dr Marina Davila-Ross, of the University of Portsmouth, has shown that the apes do not just ape the expressions of their social partners.

The psychologist said the chimpanzees appeared to use laughter to strengthen social bonds, just like humans.

She said this showed that great apes had a more complex social use of expressions than previously thought.

Dr Davila-Ross said: 'Humans clearly use laughter as an important response in a wide range of social situations, but it is particularly interesting that chimpanzees seem to also use laughter to respond in such distinct ways.

Research: Dr Marina Davila-Ross's (right) study examined laughter in 59 chimpanzees living in four groups in the chimpanzee sanctuary Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia

'Great apes' ability to manage the sounds they make seems to be much more limited than humans and other animals, and even parrots.

'Nonetheless, their laughter might be partly managed and partly automatic.

'They do not just mimic the expressions of their playmates; they respond with their expressions in more complex ways than we were aware of before.

Play time: Dr Davila-Ross added that the apes had to be part of the fun to start laughing and would not just laugh by hearing other apes laughing nearby

'We found their responsive laughter shows a similarity to the conversational laughter of humans.

'Both are shorter than spontaneous laughter and both seem designed to promote social interaction.

'These sorts of responses may lead to important advantages in co-operation and social communication - qualities that help explain why laughter and smiles have become integral tools of emotional intelligence in humans.'

'Since then, the ability to control laughter must have drastically increased, along with its adaptive advantages, which explains why laughter has become a highly sophisticated, ubiquitous tool of co-operation and social communication in humans.'

source: dailymail


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