Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Social Buffering

  • L. Tamara KumpanEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_2064-1


Social buffering

The improved recovery from aversive experiences when a social mammal is grouped with others of the same species (Davitz and Mason 1955).


Primates encounter a multitude of stressors in the wild, ranging from constant predation risk to food competition and aggressive interactions with conspecifics. In mammals, stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which in turn stimulates the adrenal cortex and eventually results in the release of the glucocorticoid hormone cortisol, or corticosterone. In the immediate context, cortisol is adaptive because it motivates the “fight-or-flight” response on which survival depends and enables individuals to act quickly to escape life-threatening situations. However, although it is adaptive in the short-term, cortisol is extremely damaging to the brain and body when released consistently over long-term periods. Cortisol has been linked to decreases in immune response as well as cognitive ability...


Stress Cortisol Sociality Oxytocin Primates 
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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AnthropologyUniversity of Toronto ScarboroughTorontoCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Jennifer Vonk
    • 1
  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA