Rosati, A.G., Hagberg, L., Enigk, D.K., Otali, E., Emery Thompson, M., Muller, M.N., Wrangham, R.W., & Machanda, Z.P., (2020) Social selectivity in aging wild chimpanzees. Science, 370: 473-476.[PDF] [Supplementary] [Publisher’s Version] [Commentary] Abstract
Humans prioritize close, positive relationships during aging, and socioemotional selectivity theory proposes that this shift causally depends on capacities for thinking about personal future time horizons. To examine this theory, we tested for key elements of human social aging in longitudinal data on wild chimpanzees. Aging male chimpanzees have more mutual friendships characterized by high, equitable investment, whereas younger males have more one-sided relationships. Older males are more likely to be alone, but they also socialize more with important social partners. Further, males show a relative shift from more agonistic interactions to more positive, affiliative interactions over their life span. Our findings indicate that social selectivity can emerge in the absence of complex future-oriented cognition, and they provide an evolutionary context for patterns of social aging in humans.