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November 20 2012
At middle age, a great ape will neither cheat on a spouse nor buy a red sports car on impulse. But researchers have found that chimpanzees and orangutans experience midlife crises just as surely as do humans.
That finding, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could upend firmly held beliefs about the roots of human happiness and the forces that influence its odd trajectory across the life span. If our animal relatives share our propensity for sadness, withdrawal and frustration at life's midpoint, perhaps the midlife crisis is actually driven by biological factors — not the wearing responsibilities of jobs and family and the dawning recognition of our mortality.
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