Study: Cuddles Calm Chimps After Conflict

Researchers find evidence of empathy in man's closest relative
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2008 1:00 PM CDT
Chimpanzees at Lisbon Zoo have breakfast in this file photo.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Chimpanzees console each other with hugs and kisses after a conflict much like humans do, researchers have discovered. After a chimp has been the victim of aggression, its stress levels are greatly reduced when it's embraced by another. The findings reveal a level of empathy in man's closest relative that is absent in monkeys, said a primate expert.

"Chimpanzees calm distressed recipients of aggression by consoling them with a friendly gesture," a researcher told AP. "This study removes doubt that consolation really does what the term suggests: provides relief to distressed parties after conflict. The evidence is compelling and makes it likely that consolation behavior is an expression of empathy."