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Anxiety Level Predicts Post-Conflict Behaviour in Wild Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui)


Bonaventura Majolo, Department of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, LN6 7TS, UK. E-mail:


Reconciliation (i.e. the post-conflict exchange of friendly behaviour between former opponents) functions to control for the detrimental effects that aggression may have on social relationships. Studies conducted so far have investigated intra-individual sources of variation in post-conflict behaviour, showing that animals have a stronger increase in anxiety and are more likely to reconcile after conflicts with valuable partners, such as kin. Much less attention has been given to how differences between individuals in emotional profiles affect post-conflict behaviour. Our aim was to analyse whether inter-individual differences in baseline anxiety levels predicted the magnitude of the increase in anxiety following a conflict and the occurrence of reconciliation. We collected data on two groups of wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui). Animals having a higher baseline level of anxiety had a more dramatic anxious response following a conflict while controlling for a series of factors (e.g. relationship quality between opponents). These more anxious animals were also less likely to reconcile than more relaxed individuals. Therefore, more anxious animals face some social costs by being less able to cope with the post-conflict condition. We propose that differences in anxiety levels may be interpreted as tradeoffs between benefits and costs across conditions. For example, more anxious animals, who are less able to reconcile conflicts, might also be less exploratory and thus face a lower risk to eat unknown, poisonous food.

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