The Natural History of
Carel P. van Schaik & Filippo Aureli
The most important generalization to emerge from two decades of work on reconciliation (i.e., post-conflict friendly reunion between opponents) in primates is that individuals that reconcile are likely to have a strong social bond (de Waal, Chapter 2; Cords & Aureli, Chapter 9). Depending on the species, strong bonds are characterized by more time in close proximity, more friendly behavior such as grooming, lower rates of agonistic conflict (i.e., conflict including aggressive and submissive patterns), and more mutual agonistic support than the average dyad in the group (review: Cords 1997). Animals with a strong bond are likely to derive considerable value from their relationship (Kummer 1978).
Many examples of reconciliation fit this pattern. In chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), in which males but not females form strong intrasexual bonds, reconciliation after agonistic conflicts is far more common between males than between females (de Waal 1986; also muriquis [Brachyteles arachnoides]: Strier et al., Box 15.1). In contrast, among gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), strong bonds are seen only between the group's silverback male and the adult females, and these are the only types of dyads in which post-conflict reconciliation occurs (Watts 1995). Similarly, the dominant adult male in a longtail macaque (Macaca fascicularis) group frequently reconciles with the adult females, but not with other males in the group (Aureli & van Schaik unpublished). Among these same macaques, juvenile females, who unlike juvenile males tend to remain in their natal groups for life, form bonds with unrelated adult females and thus reconcile more with them. Juvenile males, in contrast, reconcile more with other juveniles, with whom they