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Reconciliation and Redirected Affection in Rhesus Monkeys

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The question whether rhesus monkeys reconcile was empirically translated as: Do they seek non-agonistic contact with former adversaries? The study concerned a captive group of forty-one monkeys, Macaca mulatta. Participants in 350 aggressive incidents were followed both immediately after the incident and during matched control periods. Comparison of the two sets of data showed that: - After the incident former opponents had an increased tendency to approach and contact each other. - The attraction between them was selective, i.e., the number of inter-opponent contacts showed not only an absolute but also a relative increase. - Also former alliance partners showed attraction to each other. - Inter-opponent contacts were behaviorally distinctive. The most characteristic behavior patterns were embrace, lipsmack and redirected threat. - Conciliatory tendency increased with general bond strength between individuals, even though the first measure had a built-in correction for the second. - A higher conciliatory tendency among matrilineal relatives could be fully explained by the above mentioned influence of bond strength. - General effects of agonistic interactions included a grooming increase for violent aggressors, a grooming decrease for victim of severe aggression, and an increased receipt of grooming for mild aggressors. - Grooming of outsiders by violent aggressors depended on the intensity of the bond between aggressor and victim. Therefore, this grooming behavior was interpreted as redirected affection.

Affiliations: 1: Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, Madison, WI, U.S.A.

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