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Comparative psychology of positive emotions: A multi-componential approach to understand affective states in man's closest living relative, the bonobo.

Similar to humans, emotions in animals affect their daily lives in many ways. While human studies rely on verbal reports for measuring subjective emotions, we need to apply a different approach for measuring animal emotions. The intensity of emotions has long been studied using behavioural and physiological measures, but these measures fail to identify the emotional valence. Positive emotions appear especially challenging to identify. Recent findings suggest that emotions also affect cognitive processes like attention, judgement and memory and that biases in these performances may give insight in the valence of experienced emotions. This project focuses on studying emotions in man's closest living relative: the bonobo. The bonobo is considered the most suitable model for reconstructing our last common ancestor and hence is a keystone species in studying our evolution and identifying unique human traits. Bonobos have rich emotional lives and respond to the emotions of others in strikingly similar ways as humans. However, the degree to which emotions of bonobos affect their own behaviour, physiology and cognition is currently unknown. To this extent, this project aims to apply a multi-componential approach to study emotions, specifically positive ones, in the bonobo using behavioural, physiological and cognitive measures. Results will be integrated to better understand emotions in bonobos and how positive emotions affect their daily lives.
Date:1 Nov 2019 →  31 Oct 2023
Disciplines:Animal experimental psychology, Comparative psychology
Project type:Collaboration project