At the Swedish Furuvik Zoo researchers conducted an extensive observational study examining imitative behavior between chimpanzees and humans. Researchers found that the chimpanzees tried to imitate the people at a similar rate to the people trying to imitate the chimpanzees. Both chimpanzees and humans were able to accurately mime each other’s actions with almost equal success while inside. Chimps achieved a 44 percent success rate at imitating humans, while humans achieved a roughly 55 percent success rate. The chimps’ favorite action to initiate was pressing their lips to the window, while people tried engaging with chimps by clapping their hands.
This primate-based study was awarded an Improbable Nobel Prize Award, an honor given to those scholarly works that make people laugh and then think. The Ig Nobel Prizes are handed out by Nobel Laureates who are impressed and amused with particularly imaginative advances in technology, science, and medicine.
This chart shows imitative behavior between chimpanzees and humans.
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