In nonhuman animals, the phenomenon of rapid facial mimicry (RFM)—the automatic, involuntary, and rapid (<1 s) replication of others’ facial expressions—has been mainly investigated in the playful domain. In immature lowland gorillas Gorilla gorilla gorilla both play face (PF) and full PF (FPF) are rapidly mimicked between the players. This makes the species suitable to test hypotheses on the factors influencing RFM during play. The observations on 3 captive groups of lowland gorillas (N ¼ 27) revealed that contrary to expectations, the closeness of social bond negatively influenced the occurrence of RFM but it did not affect either RFM latency or its overlapping index (OVERLAP). RFM was affected by the degree of symmetry of play fighting: the more balanced the session, the higher the occurrence of RFM. Players of the same sex class responded faster than players of different sex. These findings suggest that RFM may help synchronizing behaviors of playmates matching in size (same-sex) and promote symmetric playful interactions. “Laughing together” (measured by the RFM OVERLAP) lasted longer when the responder perfectly mirrored the partner expression (PF!PF; FPF!FPF). If PF and FPF convey information on the different play roughness degree, through “laughing together” the players could coordinate their actions and share positive moods and playful intensity. If the perfect congruency in the motor resonance, also known as social sensitivity, can foster a possible emotional dialogue between gorillas remains to be investigated.

Playing together, laughing together: rapid facial mimicry and social sensitivity in lowland gorillas

Giada CORDONI
Penultimo
;
Elisabetta PALAGI
Ultimo
2021

Abstract

In nonhuman animals, the phenomenon of rapid facial mimicry (RFM)—the automatic, involuntary, and rapid (<1 s) replication of others’ facial expressions—has been mainly investigated in the playful domain. In immature lowland gorillas Gorilla gorilla gorilla both play face (PF) and full PF (FPF) are rapidly mimicked between the players. This makes the species suitable to test hypotheses on the factors influencing RFM during play. The observations on 3 captive groups of lowland gorillas (N ¼ 27) revealed that contrary to expectations, the closeness of social bond negatively influenced the occurrence of RFM but it did not affect either RFM latency or its overlapping index (OVERLAP). RFM was affected by the degree of symmetry of play fighting: the more balanced the session, the higher the occurrence of RFM. Players of the same sex class responded faster than players of different sex. These findings suggest that RFM may help synchronizing behaviors of playmates matching in size (same-sex) and promote symmetric playful interactions. “Laughing together” (measured by the RFM OVERLAP) lasted longer when the responder perfectly mirrored the partner expression (PF!PF; FPF!FPF). If PF and FPF convey information on the different play roughness degree, through “laughing together” the players could coordinate their actions and share positive moods and playful intensity. If the perfect congruency in the motor resonance, also known as social sensitivity, can foster a possible emotional dialogue between gorillas remains to be investigated.
Bresciani, Chiara; Cordoni, Giada; Palagi, Elisabetta
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/1143246
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