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The function of postconflict interactions: new prospects from the study of a tolerant species of primate

Duboscq, J, Agil, M, Engelhardt, A and Thierry, B (2014) The function of postconflict interactions: new prospects from the study of a tolerant species of primate. Animal Behaviour, 87. pp. 107-120. ISSN 0003-3472

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Aggression can generate anxiety, create uncertainty about its aftermath and jeopardise social relationships. Postconflict interactions serve as conflict management strategies to mitigate these consequences. Whereas postconflict interactions are well characterized in many animals, their functions are still insufficiently investigated. Four functional hypotheses have been proposed: stress reduction, relationship repair, self-protection and benign intent. We aimed to test these hypotheses in females of a tolerant macaque species, the crested macaque, Macaca nigra, under natural conditions, for three postconflict interactions: reconciliation, affiliation and aggression with third parties. Our results provide meaningful contrasts compared with findings in other species. We found no evidence that aggression had consequences for individuals' behavioural indicators of anxiety, although it increased the likelihood of secondary aggression with third parties. There was little evidence for the stress reduction hypothesis as the occurrence of any of the three postconflict interactions investigated had little effect on the measured behavioural indicators of anxiety. Conflict and dyad characteristics also had limited influence on anxiety. The relationship repair function was only partly validated: dyads with stronger bonds or that exchanged more support did not reconcile more often, but dyads with attributes related to the symmetry, stability and predictability (i.e. security) within relationships did. Patterns of initiation and directionality of postconflict interactions in this study population suggest that reconciliation may constitute the signalling of appeasement and benign intent. Furthermore, we found that aggression towards third parties may serve as a source of self-protection and reassertion of the females' social status. The distinctive pattern of postconflict management strategies revealed in wild female crested macaques appears to be related to their typically tolerant social style. These results demonstrate the usefulness of concomitantly studying aggression, postconflict interactions and their functions, to understand conflict management strategies comprehensively, while taking into account the level of social tolerance characterizing the studied society.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 06 Biological Sciences, 07 Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences, 17 Psychology And Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2016 13:16
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2022 15:29
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.10.018
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/3202
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