Behavioral scientists test biological principle on free-living Assamese macaques

phys.org | 3/11/2019 | Staff
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"Birds of a feather flock together," or rather "opposites attract"? A recently published study on male macaques in Thailand speaks for the former: Behavioral biologists from the German Primate Centre—Leibniz Institute for Primate Research and psychologists from the University of Göttingen have observed that the more similar male Assamese macaques are in their personality, the closer they get and the stronger their social bonds.

The scientists were able to rule out the possibility that the causality works the other way round, i.e. that close partners would become more and more similar over time, because the males' personality remained stable even if they migrated between groups and thus changed their social partners. It is suggested that this behavior provides an evolutionary advantage: If the friend has a similar personality, this facilitates communication and coordination and thus cooperation in critical situations.

Bonds - Animals - Relationships - Friendships - Bromance

Social bonds in animals are defined as stable, equal and cooperative relationships, comparable to human friendships. Such bromance among unrelated adult males has been described in a few species. A close relationship with another male can be advantageous, as it promises support in critical situations, such as aggressive conflicts with other group mates. Personality homophily, i.e. the tendency to like others if they are similar, has been described both in humans and in a few species of animals. The advantage is obvious: The more similar our counterpart is to us, the better we can predict his reactions. This creates trust. But what are the characteristics that should be particularly similar for a relationship to succeed?

The team around Ph.D. student Anja Ebenau obtained data on 24 free-living male Assamese macaques in the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand over a period of almost two years. In close cooperation with the psychologists Lars Penke...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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