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Keywords:

  • Pan paniscus;
  • aggression;
  • reconciliation;
  • consolation;
  • relationship quality;
  • conflict management

Abstract

Although reconciliation in bonobos (Pan paniscus) has previously been described, it has not been analyzed heretofore by the postconflict (PC) match-control (MC) method. Furthermore, although reconciliation has been investigated before in this species, consolation has not. In this study we analyzed agonistic and affiliative contacts in all sex-class combinations to clarify and reevaluate the occurrence of reconciliation in bonobos via the PC-MC method. We also investigated the occurrence of consolation by analyzing the victims' triadic contact tendency (TCT), the influence of the sex of victims, and the relative occurrence of consolation and reconciliation. We collected 167 pairs of PC-MC observations in a captive group of bonobos (in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands). The conciliatory tendency (CCT) we obtained was tendentially lower than the mean value previously found for Yerkes captive chimpanzees. Close relationships, which were present in all female–female (FF) and some male–female (MF) dyads, positively affected reconciliation rates. When only adult PC-MC pairs (157) were considered, the mean TCTs and CCTs did not differ significantly. When we focused on types of PC affiliative contact, in the case of consolation we found a striking preference for sociosexual patterns. As to the relative occurrence of consolation and reconciliation, the highest level of the former was found in the absence of the latter. When reconciliation took place, consolation generally preceded it, suggesting that consolation may be a substitutive behavior. Our findings suggest that even if reconciliation remains the best option, consolation may be an alternative substitute for reconciliation that is used to buffer the tension originating from an unresolved conflict. Reconciliation and consolation are complex phenomena that are probably related to the life history of a group. Given that few studies have been conducted on this subject, we can not at this time make any generalizations regarding conflict resolution in certain species by comparing results among studies. Am. J. Primatol. 62:15–30, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.