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Abstract

The relational model of conflict resolution predicts that after an aggressive conflict there should be a motivational shift from aggression to attraction. Most tests of the reconciliation hypothesis assume, however, that all non-aggressive post-conflict behaviours between former opponents are motivationally homogeneous and qualify as friendly reunions. In fact, although the hypothesis predicts an increased occurrence of friendly contacts after conflicts, in practice, however, post-conflict reunions often include a mixture of contact and non-contact behaviours. Most reconciliation studies either (often) assume a conciliatory function for post-conflict reunions or (less often) test functional predictions. Finally, the valuable relationships hypothesis predicts that conciliatory rates should be relatively higher between friends and allies than between non-friends/allies. In this paper, we use data on non-aggressive interactions following conflicts between adult male hamadryas baboons that are neither friends nor allies to assess the implications of all these important but largely overlooked issues. The analyses of the rate and temporal relation of non-contact greeting (NCTG) to anxiety-related behaviours and side-directed aggression as well as of the behaviours used during non-aggressive interactions with male and female third-parties suggest that the NCTG used by males after conflicts were neither motivationally friendly nor functionally conciliatory. We point out that the gestures exchanged during these post-conflict NCTG can be interpreted as formalized signals of equal status and that the rate and form of the greetings used by male opponents are indicative of high relationship insecurity and incompatibility respectively. We conclude that although male hamadryas’ post-conflict NCTG are not conciliatory they may serve to assess their opponents’ attitude and to negotiate the restoring of their pre-conflict levels of peaceful but non-amicable co-existence.