Chummy Chimps

Stressed out? SERENITY NOW!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
Social interactions help keep our stress response well-balanced. But are all social encounters created equal?

Enter researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. To understand how friendship impacts stress levels, they monitored wild chimpanzees in Uganda. They measured the amount of cortisol in chimp urine to quantify stress levels.

The scientists noticed that chimps had the lowest stress levels when they were around their besties. It wasn’t any particular activity that reduced stress levels. It was WHO the chimps interacted with.

For example: grooming with a BFF? Peace and serenity. Grooming with a stranger? Not so relaxing. Even chimps caught up in a brawl didn’t stress out — as long as they were backed up by their buds.

The study shows that friendship is hugely important in balancing primate stress levels. Given our close evolutionary relationship to chimpanzees, this is likely true for humans too!

If howling like a baboon isn’t helping you de-stress, monkey around with your best friend — it’ll save you from going bananas! Sorry.