Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type




First Advisor

Dr. Herbert Covert


Grief is one of the most fundamental human emotions and one of the least studied. One of the ways we discover more about humanity is by studying the rest of our order: the primates. Studying grief in other primates can help us understand our own grief better, and thus help those suffering from it. This thesis compiles accounts of primate grief (death of an infant, death of a parent, and death of a conspecific); compares those accounts to human grief, and analyzes whether grief could be an adaptive trait. It was found that primate grief is fundamentally no different than human grief. While there is not enough data to conclude whether grief is an adaptive trait, it does function in a beneficial way in most primates. The discoveries that grief can be found across our order and that grief is more beneficial if allowed to progress naturally has repercussions for how grieving humans are treated. Humans, like primates in the wild, should be allowed to grieve in their own time and way to ensure their health and survival.