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Summary: While adolescent chimpanzees may share similar risk-taking behaviors as human teens, they tend to be less impulsive than their human counterparts.
Adolescent chimpanzees share some of the same risk-taking behaviors as human teens, but they may be less impulsive than their human counterparts, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
The study gets at age-old nature/nurture questions about why adolescents take more risks: because of environment or because of biological predispositions?
“Adolescent chimpanzees are in some sense facing the same psychological tempest that human teens are,” said lead researcher Alexandra Rosati, PhD, an associate professor of psychology and anthropology at the University of Michigan. “Our findings show that several key features of human adolescent psychology are also seen in our closest primate relatives.”
“Prior research indicates that chimpanzees are quite patient compared with other animals, and our study shows that their ability to delay gratification is already mature at a fairly young age, unlike in humans,” Rosati said.
However, adolescent chimpanzees weren’t happy about waiting for the extra banana slices and they threw more tantrums during the one-minute delay than adult chimpanzees.
Risk-taking behavior in both adolescent chimpanzees and humans appears to be deeply biologically ingrained, but increases in impulsive behavior may be specific to human teens, Rosati said.