, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 55-66

Reconciliation and consolation among chimpanzees

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Summary

  1. After agonistic interactions among chimpanzees, former opponents often come into non-violent body contact. The present paper gives a quantitative description of such contacts among the chimpanzees of a large semi-free-living colony at the Arnhem Zoo, in order to establish whether these post-conflict contacts are of a specific nature.

  2. Our data indicate that former opponents preferentially make body contact with each other rather than with third partners. They tend to contact each other shortly after the conflict and show special behaviour patterns during these first contacts. Data on contacts of the aggressed party with third animals indicate that such contacts are characterized by the same special behaviour patterns as first interopponent contacts. These patterns are: ‘kiss’, ‘embrace’, ‘hold-out-hand’, ‘submissive vocalization’ and ‘touch’.

  3. Such interactions apparently serve an important socially homeostatic function and we termed them ‘reconciliation’ (i.e. contact between former opponents) and ‘consolation’ (i.e. contact of the aggressed party with a third animal). According to our data, ‘kissing’ is characteristic of reconciliation and ‘embracing’ of consolation.