An understanding of third-party friendships in a tolerant macaque

Whitehouse, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-2607-5492 and Meunier, H., 2020. An understanding of third-party friendships in a tolerant macaque. Scientific reports, 10: 9777. ISSN 2045-2322

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Complex societies are shaped by social relationships between multiple individuals. The pressure to track these relationships has driven the evolution of social cognition in primates. Importantly, it can be adaptive to track not only personal relationships, but also those established between third-parties. Primates have knowledge about others’ dominance hierarchies and kinship, but we do not know to what extent they also understand friendships. In a playback experiment, Tonkean macaques were presented with simulated conflicts involving third-party female dyads who were established friends or non-friends. Hearing a conflict between friends elicited a stronger behavioural response in listeners (i.e. an increase in looking time) compared to hearing a conflict between non-friends. Conflicts between friends are likely to represent a greater disruption of the social group and structure of the network, and therefore this difference in response may represent an adaptive strategy employed by the macaques to selectively monitor important social interactions in the group. These findings provide evidence that Tonkean macaques (and potentially other primates) can classify the relationships of others based on their degree of friendship and additionally, confirms the important role friendships have within the societies of social primates.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Scientific reports
Creators: Whitehouse, J. and Meunier, H.
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Date: 17 June 2020
Volume: 10
ISSN: 2045-2322
Rights: © the author(s) 2020. 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
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 06 Oct 2020 14:38
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:13

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