Reconciliation and relationship quality in Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis)



A consistent conclusion in reconciliation research is that animals that reconcile are likely to have strong social bonds. This has led to the hypothesis that reconciliation occurs most often between valuable social partners. We tested this hypothesis in a group of Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis) living near a temple in Assam, India. Using focal sample and ad libitum data collection, we recorded the occurrence of reconciliation, grooming, and agonistic aiding, and the outcomes of approach. We used matrix association methods (TauKr correlation) to correlate reconciliation with grooming, aiding, and approach outcome. Females reconciled more often with females with which they had stronger grooming and aiding relationships. The correlation between reconciliation and aiding was significant for support to the aggressor and the victim. In contrast, no such correlations with reconciliation were found for males. This study provides evidence that females reconcile most often with valuable and compatible social partners. The results do not support the relationship-quality hypothesis for males, and we suggest that future studies give more consideration to the possibility that males reconcile for reasons other than to repair relationships with valuable partners. Am. J. Primatol. 65:269–282, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.