Introduction: mourning chimps understand what death is
Sometimes when reading about what is going on in war-torn nations across the globe, it looks as if us humans have forgotten how to mourn, how to show respect for the life of others. If only politicians... and world leaders were as open-minded and interested in others as world-class biologists are. Top biologists need to be open-minded on the one hand, and be very disciplined on the other. They have to avoid the trap of projecting their human thoughts and analysis on the species they are analyzing.
Even in the case of our closest cousin: chimpanzees. Researchers from the University of Stirling in Scotland reported in Current Biology Magazine on something quite remarkable. Chimpanzees do mourn the loss of lost ones. They seem to understand what death means. Not just that: the roles performed by the siblings of the deceased chimp seem to differ from those of others, not so closely related to him/her. Similar to what we see in human families.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs and our treatment of others
Isn't it sad that these pure emotions seem to have been forgotten in many war-torn or corrupt nation where emotionally-challenged leaders rule without paying attention to the consequence of their actions? How did that happen? Prof. Michael Wilson, of the University of Minnesota in the US states that - because the chimps in the University of Stirling research were living in a research park in Scotland - the outcome of the Stirling study might be related to the chimps there living in a kind of luxury situation with less struggle for life, more certainty concerning food etc. In that case they have more time for the higher level aspects of Maslow's pyramid of needs. The linkage to Abraham Maslow's main work could then explain why research in the wild didn't lead to similar results in the last 50 years, not even in top level research like that of Jane Goodall.
Is there a link between Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the way we treat others?
I.e. does poverty and inequality translate in us pricing other people's lives and emotions less than we would otherwise?