Conflict resolution takes place in the larger context of ecology and culture. To understand how and why conflict resolution techniques evolved and how these techniques reflect the demands of society in a given context, we need to investigate the environmental pressures. In this section, several authors attempt to outline this larger framework for both humans and other animals.
Van Schaik and Aureli start out, in Chapter 15, explaining why animals live in groups and how, within these groups, enduring alliances are formed. Like team sports, alliances bridge the gap between cooperation and competition in that they are cooperative contracts that individuals enter into for the sake of competition: alliances provide a competitive edge. Because these contracts are so valuable, the relationships are serviced by means of grooming and reconciliation after fights. The concept of social relationship, so central in primate research, is highlighted by these authors by reviewing various forms of valuable relationships that may differ between the sexes and between adults and immatures. Some of their points are illustrated by the case of the muriqui, an endangered neotropical primate studied in the field by Strier, Carvalho, and Bejar, who in Box 15.1 describe their remarkably peaceful society. Females keep their distance from one another, thus avoiding competition, and males establish close bonds in which conflicts are minimized for the sake of group solidarity. They need to maintain a united front in the face of competition with neighbors.
Pereira and Kappeler, in Box 15.2, compare two member species of an early branch on the primate tree and examine the complementarity