A curious story has emerged which suggests new research shows chimps and orang-utans also have a ‘midlife crisis’. The Daily Telegraph picks up the story:
Human behaviour studies have revealed the well-established trend that our level of happiness declines after childhood until middle age, when we gradually begin to feel more content again.
Now researchers have found that the same “u-shaped” pattern is also seen among chimpanzees and orang-utans, who are most satisfied with life in their earliest and latest years but reach a “nadir” in middle age.
The researchers examined behavioural reports on more than 500 captive apes compiled by their keepers, researchers or other volunteers who were familiar with them throughout their lives.
Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, they reported that the animals’ happiness was generally high in youth, declined in middle age and rose again into old age.
While the study does not rule out the influence of cultural forces on our mood, it suggests biological factors could partly explain the distinctive u-shaped pattern.