Chimps love watching a movie together too

Reseachers in the USA say that apes also feel a sense of bonding from watching things together

UNSPECIFIED - MARCH 03: Common chimpanzee o Robust chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), Hominidae. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Chimps: they’re just like us. A new study published by the Royal Society has revealed that chimpanzees get the same sense of bonding and closeness from watching a video together as humans do.

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It is part of the “deep evolutionary roots” of the emotional impact of watching something with someone else.

“Experiences are richer watching together,” says Wouter Wolf, co-author of the report, from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University in the USA.

For this study, chimps and bonobos were put in front of a screen showing their favourite videos – clips of other apes – with eye-tracking in place to make sure they were watching the film, and fruit juices on hand to keep them still and in place.

The researchers studied changes in behaviour in 45 apes, mostly chimps. Watching the film made them more likely to touch and interact with each other afterwards.

The researchers concluded that this sense of feeling closer from watching something with someone is “present in both humans and great apes and thus has deeper evolutionary roots than previously suspected”.

“Experiencing and sharing something between two people creates common ground,” Wouter Wolf, co-author of the report, said. “If you go to the movies together, you’re sitting side by side, it’s a really social phenomenon.”

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He continued: “you get really annoyed if the other person starts to play with their phone. It’s annoying because you’re no longer watching together”. Luckily chimps don’t have to worry about that struggle just yet…