The contributions in this section provide the historical background for the rest of the volume. These broad reviews of disparate areas of investigation, such as animal behavior, child psychology, and legal studies, converge on a changing emphasis from aggression and authoritative intervention to negotiation and conflict resolution.
In Chapter 2, while reviewing the earliest animal studies, de Waal reports that reconciliation, that is, post-conflict friendly interaction between former opponents, was discovered in the late 1970s in chimpanzees but has since then been demonstrated in a variety of nonhuman primates, both in the field and in captivity (see Appendix A). The term reconciliation, with its implication of relationship repair, serves as a heuristic label from which several predictions can be derived, such as that post-conflict interaction should (1) occur preferentially between former opponents, (2) especially between opponents with valuable relationships, and (3) reduce social tension and further aggression. Thus far, these predictions have been borne out by the observational data, and experimental evidence has lent further support. The existence of conciliatory mechanisms has implications for our view of aggressive competition: one of the main constraints on competition among social animals is the value of competitors as partners in cooperative endeavors. Summarized in the Relational Model, this perspective shifts attention away from aggression as the expression of an internal state toward aggression as the product of conflicts of interest. It regards aggressive behavior as the product of social decision making and one of several ways in which conflicts between individuals or groups are negotiated.