Humans & Chimpanzees Both Have A Propensity To Time Our Steps To Those Of Others
The study documented the chimpanzees' gait patterns at the Zambian Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust.
Much less is known about chimpanzees' inclination to coordinate spontaneously than about how they cooperate when working toward a goal, such tugging a string to release food. Chimpanzees and humans also inadvertently coordinate their movements when walking next to other members of their own species, according to a recent observational research1. According to the authors, this is an inherited trait.
Male and female chimpanzees of various ages, some related and some not, were used in the study. When the chimpanzees were out in semi-natural settings, either alone or with others, the research team monitored them. To look into potential influences on the degree of coordination, they also evaluated social ties. When the chimpanzees walked in pairs, a step-by-step walker was in 79% of the time followed by the same foot of the other walker in less than 0.5 seconds. Individual chimpanzees moved more quickly when accompanied by their own kind than when they were on their alone.
The researchers came to the conclusion that chimpanzees modify their individual behavior to coordinate activities with others in time, which could serve as a foundation for other, more intricate forms of cooperative activity. Thus, entrainment, a term used to describe this spontaneous inter-individual coordination, is also shared by humans.
Such inter-personal coordination may occur unintentionally and when the purpose is not the synchronization of motions, such as when two individuals begin to walk in unison and settle into a rhythm. Even though chimpanzees are among our closest living relatives and exhibit the capacity for coordination in sophisticated joint action tasks, little is known about simpler types of joint action. This study provides proof that humans and their nearest living ancestors share this basic coordinating ability. Thus, more advanced underlying mechanisms are likely to account for the distinction between human and chimpanzee more intricate types of coordination.
Schweinfurth, M. K., Baldridge, D. B., Finnerty, K., Call, J., & Knoblich, G. K. (2022). Inter-individual coordination in walking chimpanzees. Current Biology: CB. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2022.09.059