New Research Claims Apes Experience Midlife Crises Too

By Mack Rawden 2012-11-19 15:03:25
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For decades, researchers have pointed to societal factors such as stagnancy at work and the empty nest to explain why happiness tends to decrease during middle age, but it turns out there may be some biological factors in play, as well. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week argues that many apes go through midlife crises remarkably similar to what humans experience. They may not have the same goals and problems as we do, but their happiness tends to follow the same u-shape experts have long pointed to.

According to ABC News, more than five hundred zookeepers were asked to answer questions related to the happiness levels and activities of chimpanzees and orangutans. The results indicated happiness levels were lower during middle age, likely because many apes were depressed over not having more territory or more mating partners.

Given the apes cannot fill out the questionnaires themselves, there are clear limitations to this study. To try and make the results are believable as possible, only zookeepers who had been looking after an animal for at least two years were allowed to participate. More than likely, there are some elements of human life that make unhappiness more of a problem in middle age, but if nothing else, this study proves more research needs to be done as to the genetic element of the equation.
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