Thursday, 11 January 2018

Rudeness Wins: Bonobos Are Attracted to Creeps

By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | January 5, 2018 12:53pm ET

"You like me because I'm a scoundrel," interstellar smuggler Han Solo confidently told Princess Leia Organa in the 1981 film "The Empire Strikes Back." And scientists recently discovered a similar preference in bonobos, the great apes that are close relatives of chimpanzees.

Bonobos (Pan paniscus) are helpful sweethearts compared with their more aggressive chimp cousins (Pan troglogytes). But a new study found that these generally peaceful primates were also more likely to respond positively to individuals that were selfish, bullying or downright mean.

In other words, they're drawn to jerks. [8 Humanlike Behaviors of Primates]

Of course, Han Solo ultimately proved that he was quite a bit nicer than his self-serving manner initially suggested. But bonobos demonstrated in a series of trials that they were more likely to favor individuals that treated others poorly.

Prior research has shown that bonobos go out of their way to help others, even when their assistance hasn't been requested and they receive no reward for lending a hand. But when scientists showed bonobos videos in which some characters prevented others from reaching a goal, the bonobo subjects unexpectedly preferred the harmful individuals to the helpful ones.

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