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Bondedness and sociality

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Approaches to sociality have, in the past, focused either on group typologies or on the functional aspects of relationships (mate choice, parental investment decisions). In contrast, the nature of the social relationships that scale from the individual-level behavioural decisions to the emergent properties represented by group typology has received almost no attention at all. We argue that that there is now a need to refocus attention on the bonding processes that give rise to social groups. However, we lack any kind of language with which to describe or classify these operationally, in part perhaps because social bonding is emotional (and, hence, 'felt'). One task for the future is, therefore, to identify suitable indices that can be used to compare the degree of bondedness between individual animals both between species and, within species, between individual dyads in such a way as to be able to test functional questions.

Affiliations: 1: British Academy Centenary Research Project, Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, 64 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PN, UK;, Email: robin.dunbar@anthro.ox.ac.uk; 2: British Academy Centenary Research Project, Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, 64 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PN, UK

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