Like Humans, Male Chimps Mellow With Age

Older individuals have fewer but closer friendships, avoid conflicts, and are more optimistic compared with younger adults. Now, 20 years of data on chimpanzees suggest they, too, develop more meaningful friendships as they age. The finding challenges a long-standing assumption that humans mellow with age because we are aware of our approaching mortality. Simply put, “You don’t have time for all this negativity in your life, so you shift toward more positive thinking,” says Zarin Machanda, a primatologist at Tufts University and an author of the new study. But finding the same pattern in chimps suggests a simpler explanation: It could be an evolved trait found in a wider range of species.

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