The Abstract Podcast

Friends or enemies: Why social networks are the key to survival

In this episode, we dive into the surprising overlap in the relationships of chimpanzees and humans.

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While forming friendships is a deeply human experience, it may not be as unique to our species as we think. As we age, we tend to have fewer, yet closer, friends — a phenomenon called socioemotional selectivity.

By studying the social behavior of apes, scientists discovered chimps do the same thing. They don't know why these animals show such a similar social behavior to humans, but conclude both species learned that strongly established bonds help ensure survival.

When homo sapiens chose to become friendly 80,000 years ago, it set off a process that would change the course of history, paving the way for modern social networks.

Making friends may be a fundamental and fun activity for humans and animals. And when it comes to evolutionary success, it may ultimately be survival of the friendliest.

In this episode of The Abstract, we dive into the surprising overlap in the relationships of chimpanzees and humans.

Our first story is about what chimps can teach us about human friendships. As researchers reveal the similar social trends we share with these great apes, we gain valuable new insight into our closest relationships.

Our second story is about why friendliness is the pivotal secret to our own species’ success. In making a choice to become better at reading the cooperative intentions of others, human beings drove a cultural revolution that became the foundation of human society.

Read the original Inverse stories:

Where to find us:

Right now, facts and science matter more than ever. That's part of the reason for The Abstract, this all-new podcast from the Inverse staff that focuses exclusively on science and innovation. Three new episodes are released a week, and each covers one theme via two related stories. Each features audio of original Inverse reporting, where the facts and context take center stage. It's hosted by the Tanya Bustos of WSJ Podcasts. Because we're Inverse, it's all true but slightly off-kilter. It's made for people who want to know the whole story. Nick Lucchesi, executive editor, Inverse

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