The importance of considering the behavioral form of reconciliation in studies of conflict resolution

McFarland, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8245-9269 and Majolo, B., 2013. The importance of considering the behavioral form of reconciliation in studies of conflict resolution. International Journal of Primatology, 34 (1), pp. 15-29. ISSN 0164-0291

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Reconciliation is the most extensively studied conflict resolution mechanism in animal societies. However, despite the extensive literature on this topic, behaviors considered to represent postconflict affiliation have not been consistent across studies of reconciliation. Critically, reconciliation is usually defined as postconflict contact affiliation, e.g., grooming, and the importance of including interopponent distance regulation is often neglected. Moreover, to date, no study has simultaneously investigated different behavioral forms of reconciliation. We tested in two groups of wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) the relative importance of postconflict close proximity and grooming in the mediation of two important costs of aggression: damage to the opponent’s social relationship and elevated postconflict anxiety. We provide evidence that close-proximity approaches function to resolve conflicts: Close-proximity approaches reduced the victim’s postconflict anxiety and were predicted by the quality of the social relationship with the opponent. Moreover, postconflict grooming alone, although predicted by the quality of the opponent’s social relationship, did not influence the victim’s elevated postconflict anxiety. Our results suggest that interopponent distance regulation plays an important role in reconciling the costs of aggression in Barbary macaques. We advocate that further efforts should be made to test which behaviors play a role in conflict resolution in different species. This is important because even closely related species may differ in the function of behaviors that superficially appear to be rather similar. Moreover, the choice of behaviors used to study conflict resolution determines the frequency with which reconciliation is observed and can thus bias comparisons across species.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Journal of Primatology
Creators: McFarland, R. and Majolo, B.
Publisher: Springer
Date: February 2013
Volume: 34
Number: 1
ISSN: 0164-0291
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 16 Nov 2021 14:28
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 14:28

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