Stress behaviours buffer macaques from aggression

Whitehouse, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-2607-5492, Micheletta, J. and Waller, B.M. ORCID: 0000-0001-6303-7458, 2017. Stress behaviours buffer macaques from aggression. Scientific reports, 7: 11083. ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

Primates (including humans) scratch when stressed. So far, such scratching has been seen as a by-product of physiological processes associated with stress, and attributed proximate, regulatory function. However, it is possible that others could use this relationship between scratching and stress as an indication of the animal’s stress state, and thus scratching could potentially have social function. As a test of this theory, we measured the production of, and social responses to scratching in a group of free-ranging rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Firstly, we found that the likelihood of scratching was greater around periods of heightened social stress, such as being in proximity to high-ranking individuals, or non-friends. Secondly, when macaques scratched, subsequent interactions were less likely to be aggressive and more likely to be affiliative. Potential attackers may avoid attacking stressed individuals as stressed individuals could behave unpredictably or be weakened by their state of stress (rendering aggression risky and/or unnecessary). Observable stress behaviour could therefore have additional adaptive value by reducing the potential for escalated aggression, benefiting both senders and receivers by facilitating social cohesion. This basic ability to recognise stress in others could also be an important component in the evolution of social cognition such as empathy.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Scientific reports
Creators: Whitehouse, J., Micheletta, J. and Waller, B.M.
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Date: 11 September 2017
Volume: 7
ISSN: 2045-2322
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1038/s41598-017-10754-8DOI
1372455Other
Rights: © the author(s) 2017. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 09 Oct 2020 15:17
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2020 09:25
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/41237

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