, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 29-50

Reconciliation in Captive Chimpanzees: A Reevaluation with Controlled Methods

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Abstract

Affiliative postconflict reunions—reconciliations—of former opponents were first demonstrated in the chimpanzees at the Arnhem Zoo. Since then methods have been considerably refined, and reconciliation has been demonstrated in a large number of primates and also some gregarious nonprimates. This study, conducted with a different captive group, is the first to use the revised methodology with chimpanzees. We analyzed a total of 297 agonistic conflicts with the PC–MC method: we observed focal individuals for 15 min after a conflict and during matched control observations the next day. The mean conciliatory tendency of the 16 chimpanzees was 41%, with a range in different age-sex classes of 58% (among adult females) to 19% (among adult vs. immature males). After conflicts, former opponents were selectively attracted to one another. Preferential contact with previous opponents persisted when activity level during matched controls was controlled for statistically. Opponents that were frequent grooming partners reconciled more frequently, but the frequency of agonistic support had no such effect. Our findings thus confirm the existence of reconciliation in chimpanzees, which show one of the highest conciliatory tendencies among primate species.