Symposium

Primates

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 265-279

The function of peaceful post-conflict contacts among primates

  • Joan B. SilkAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of California

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Abstract

Reconciliation has been the subject of considerable research in the last decade, and researchers have demonstrated that in many species of Old World monkeys and apes former opponents are more likely to engage in friendly interactions in the minutes that follow conflicts than they are at other times.de Waal has suggested that the function of these interactions is to mend relationships that have been damaged by conflict. Although peaceful post-conflict interactions are thought to have long-term effects upon the nature of social relationships, behavioral evidence presently indicates that the effects of these interactions may be limited to the post-conflict period. Theoretical considerations also raise some doubts about whether the relationship-repair hypothesis is cogent. Data that demonstrate that peaceful post-conflict interactions facilitate peaceful interactions and relieve victim's uncertainty and anxiety about whether conflict will be continued suggest that peaceful post-conflict interactions may be a means to reestablish contact with former opponents. Thus, they appear to function as predictive signals that the actor is going to stop fighting and behave peacefully. Such signals may be important in a broad range of social contexts.

Key Words

Reconciliation Predictive signals Aggression Conflict resolution Communication