Humans often sit down to watch films together to bond and new research has shown that chimpanzees have a similar inclination as well.
It turns out that chimpanzees who watch a short movie with another chimpanzee or a human are more likely to want to spend more time with their companion.
In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers revealed that they observed the behavior of 36 pairs of chimpanzees in the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda.
Two at a time, the chimps were placed inside two caged rooms with a closed door between them. Then, the researchers played several one-minute videos for the pair. In one trial, the two apes watched one screen positioned outside their rooms, while in another, they watched videos from two different screens with a plastic barrier preventing them from watching the same video at once.
With an eye tracking camera, the team was able to track what the chimps were looking at while watching the videos.
Once the videos were done, the researchers opened the door separating the two chimpanzees. Findings showed that the pair spent around seven more seconds around each other after watching the same video, than when they did watching separately. Additionally, the chimpanzees only groomed each other when they watched the video together.
Another experiment observed chimpanzees partnered with a human. Findings showed that the apes were more likely to approach the humans on the other side of the cage if they watched a video with them. The chimpanzees also approached people 12 seconds more quickly.
What This Means
Humans tend to feel closer to those they share experiences with. Since most of these experiences tend to be cultural such as movies and music, study author Wouter Wolf of Duke University in North Carolina pointed out that many people believed that bonding over shared experiences is unique to humans.
"Animals can stand together and watch a waterfall, but they don't seem to seek out those kinds of experiences," Wolf explained. "So for a long time we thought they weren't capable of processing that way or they weren't feeling any psychological consequences from doing so."
This study provides evidence that social bonding through shared experience may have further evolutionary roots than previous assumptions.
"It's exciting that at least some parts of the psychology that we need to connect through shared experiences may actually have a slightly older evolutionary history than previously suspected," Wolf continued.