Empathy versus Parsimony in Understanding Post-Conflict Affiliation in Monkeys: Model and Empirical Data.

Empathy versus Parsimony in Understanding Post-Conflict Affiliation in Monkeys: Model and Empirical Data.

PLoS One. 2014;9(3):e91262

Authors: Puga-Gonzalez I, Butovskaya M, Thierry B, Hemelrijk CK

Abstract
Post-conflict affiliation between former opponents and bystanders occurs in several species of non-human primates. It is classified in four categories of which affiliation received by the former victim, ‘consolation’, has received most attention. The hypotheses of cognitive constraint and social constraint are inadequate to explain its occurrence. The cognitive constraint hypothesis is contradicted by recent evidence of ‘consolation’ in monkeys and the social constraint hypothesis lacks information why ‘consolation’ actually happens. Here, we combine a computational model and an empirical study to investigate the minimum cognitive requirements for post-conflict affiliation. In the individual-based model, individuals are steered by cognitively simple behavioural rules. Individuals group and when nearby each other they fight if they are likely to win, otherwise, they may groom, especially when anxious. We parameterize the model after empirical data of a tolerant species, the Tonkean macaque (Macaca tonkeana). We find evidence for the four categories of post-conflict affiliation in the model and in the empirical data. We explain how in the model these patterns emerge from the combination of a weak hierarchy, social facilitation, risk-sensitive aggression, interactions with partners close-by and grooming as tension-reduction mechanism. We indicate how this may function as a new explanation for empirical data.

PMID: 24637720 [PubMed – in process]

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