Study Suggests Aging Apes May Experience Mid-Life Crises

Study Suggests Aging Apes May Experience Mid-Life Crises

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Feelings of depression and regret we might have in common with the apes, though our penchant for sports cars seems to be uniquely human.

A recent study of over 500 great apes, including chimpanzees and orangutans, across several regions, measured the general happiness of the primates through responses from their caretakers and handlers. The study specifically asked questions regarding the mood of the animals, as well as the level of pleasure they derive from social situations. Averaging the responses, the study determined the happiness and well-being levels of each ape, with the results showing a U-shaped curve of happiness when plotted against age.

Dr. Alexander Weiss, psychologist and lead author, told BBC Nature, "What we are testing is whether the U-shaped curve can describe the association between age and well-being in non-human primates as it does in humans." A younger ape, like their human counterpart, is generally happier, while apes entering the middle of their lives, somewhere around 30 years old, dip in their happiness level. As an ape ages beyond their middle years, happiness increases again, creating the U shape.

While this isn't to say that our middle-aged ape brethren will ever be on the market for a shiny new sports car, there are other potential implications such as "mating with more females or gaining access to more resources," said Weiss. Ultimately, given the differences in our societies, and the similarities in happiness over our life spans, it is likely that there is some biological and physiological basis for the phenomenon. "We have to look deeper into our evolutionary past and that of the common ancestors that we share with chimpanzees, orangutans and other apes."

Source: BBC Nature

Image: Orangutan.org

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I didn't know happiness made a U-shape. Does that mean I'll be getting progressively sadder until I reach 40?
My reaction to this news seems to be proof in itself.

Daaaah Whoosh:
I didn't know happiness made a U-shape. Does that mean I'll be getting progressively sadder until I reach 40?
My reaction to this news seems to be proof in itself.

Happiness makes a smiley face :-)

Surely this study could not have included bonobos. Those things shag in every situation, if anything their happiness has to be a /.

Daaaah Whoosh:
I didn't know happiness made a U-shape. Does that mean I'll be getting progressively sadder until I reach 40?
My reaction to this news seems to be proof in itself.

dw imo around 40ish you also have the ability to unlock a certain real (and not just trying to appear that way) "don't give a fuck", "seen it, done it, wrote the book. can't be arsed to fill you in..." ability that personally i think is some kind of natural defence against the threat of heart attack and stroke.

that's assuming you're a bloke...

Yes, I remember well how Bill the Ape let Monica Monkey into the Oval Treehouse to check out his Banana ;')

It's interesting, I would be interested in know how the keepers assess happiness in a great ape. Upon reading, it's based on the opinions of people who work with them... and right there it kind of falls apart. It's interesting to note that the mid life crisis is a social construct and a great many ancient cultures didn't have this construct. It's basically an affliction of the modern era. Also, people apply human actions, thoughts, and feelings to animals all the time and they don't actually experience these things. That would require self reflection or some kind and animals such as ones in the great ape family do not have immediate recognition of themselves. They can learn it's them, but that isn't the same thing as myself looking into a mirror and immediately recognizing myself. But, it's still pretty interesting.

Encaen:

Image: Orangutan.org

That is a site I can get behind.

I saw this in local nes yesterday. situation of pictures was like this was like this:
politiacian politician politician
politician ape politician
politician tv star tv star

all peopel in thierm id life. and a big titile: Apes experience midlife crysis too". i laughed to tears, itsl ike our news jut rickrolled our politicians, unintentionally.

Its logical that all animals that have complex feelings can reach that. The enhusiams of youth runs out but the ability to appreciate little things did not kick in, and thus the midlife falls into depression.

It's interesting to note that the mid life crisis is a social construct and a great many ancient cultures didn't have this construct.

it great many ancient cultures average life expectancy was 30 years. you cant have a 40 year old midlife crysis if you die at 30.

They can learn it's them, but that isn't the same thing as myself looking into a mirror and immediately recognizing myself.

the first time you looked into a mirror you didnt think it was yourself either. problem with your thoery is that you take what we learn in firtst couple years of our lives for granted. many apes are the cognitive level of 2-3 year old child. So for them, this is the time to show this.

I've read this elsewhere and I have a hard time buying it. See, the mid-life crisis largely comes from looking at where you are in society, and where else you could have been or expected to be, and what other desicians you could have made, and how they might have turned out. Human society has a huge number of options and outcomes. With a bunch of primates, their organization might be pretty advanced for animals, but overall there aren't a whole lot of options to look back on, a monkey is going to wind up doing pretty much the same stuff as any other monkey, I suppose there might be some envy of other members of the group (as we've seen in other cases) but that's always present from the programs I've seen on it. It's not like a monkey realizing he's peaked at middle management, and could have instead have dropped out of high school and joined a band full time and wound up differantly.

Of course I suppose there might be some connection to a lack of independance and the abillity to understand that. When your young and strong, you don't need other people as much. At the middle age your beginning to realize your inferior to what you used to be, and are increasingly dependant on others. At an older age you get more used to that, and become less worried as you see yourself surviving (and if your not, you wind up dead so it doesn't matter to you...). I don't think there is anything medical behind that, so much as it being a matter of self-awareness beyond other animals. I think perhaps a monkey is advanced enough to realize their own state, compared to say a cat which doesn't have the mental capacity or sense of being to really understand enough to have that kind of concern, operating more on instincts than a developed sense of reason. Most animals will act pretty much the same way through their entire life cycle (with exceptions of course) and don't display the varied behaviors of the higher primates (or humans) through their lives, even if they can learn to an extent. You might be able to teach ca cat or dog a trick, but your not going to teach them how to say wash food for sanitary/health purposes and then see them teach other cats or dogs the same things through generations of their line like we've seen with monkeys, which shows the differance in the abillity to understand, reason, and be aware, that can lead to a deeper level of state over one's own condition beyond "am I hungry, tired or in pain".

So are they going to start buying sports cars and get caught having sex with younger apes?

I always assumed the 'mid life crisis' was an evolutionary mechanism to stop you from becoming too complacent. An emotional push to keep you out in the world achieving things instead of sitting on what you have and eating Skittles for the rest of your life.

The proof will be in an ape driving a yellow Porsche with two girls from Playboy with him. When I see that, I'll consider my life complete.

Honestly we should stop studying apes and focus more on animals like crocodiles who have no finite age. An 70 year old crock has the same energy as a 5 year old crock. We need to crack that code than no one has to suffer from middle age, forget worrying about the psychological disorders of apes.

Reminds me of this other study with Gorillas.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJkWS4t4l0k

disgruntledgamer:
Honestly we should stop studying apes and focus more on animals like crocodiles who have no finite age. An 70 year old crock has the same energy as a 5 year old crock. We need to crack that code than no one has to suffer from middle age, forget worrying about the psychological disorders of apes.

And are dinosaurs, don't ever forget that.

Really? So then, that Far Side comic (with an ape checking to see if he's becoming a silverback) was right?

 

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