Apes Midlife Crises: Even Chimpanzees Get The Blues

Apes experience midlife crises just like human beings, according to ABC News.

Dr. Andrew Oswald, co-author of the study recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, firmly believes that apes are susceptible to midlife crises. Their behavior is eerily similar to those displayed by humans during this period of time.

“The midlife crisis is real,” Oswald said. “Great apes go through it also, so it is inescapable for the average person.”

Over 500 chimpanzees and orangutans were observed and studied by Dr. Andrew Oswald and his colleagues. In order to obtain the data, researchers asked zookeepers a series of questions about the apes’ behavior. Inquiries ranged from happiness, social participation, and the achievement of “personal goals.”

“This questionnaire is a well-established method for assessing positive affect in captive nonhuman primates. There is considerable evidence for this measure’s objective validity,” the study explained.

According to Yahoo! News, Oswald feels that the proverbial midlife crisis was something that carried over from evolution. Instead of being a direct result of civilization and modern living, researchers feel that the anxiety associated with growing older is hardcoded into our DNA.

Research data suggests that apes start to become incredibly unhappy around the midpoint in their lives. However, since apes can’t fill out exhaustive questionnaires or describe their feelings in a way that we can thoroughly understand, Oswald’s study isn’t without its limitations.

“t would be great if we could ask apes to fill out a questionnaire,” he explained. “However this is a human’s assessment of an ape’s well-being and that’s what we are stuck with, being human.”

“It’s got to be biological,” explained Dr. Redford Williams, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University Medical Center. “It’s not just that you’re depressed because your earning capacity goes down in mid-life, because I don’t imagine that apes living in the zoo would have to worry about those matters.”

Do you believe that apes experience midlife crises?