Bystanders, parcelling, and an absence of trust in the grooming interactions of wild chimpanzees
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AbstractThe evolution of cooperation remains a central issue in socio-biology with the fundamental problem of how individuals minimize the risks of being short-changed (‘cheated’) should their behavioural investment in another not be returned. Economic decisions that individuals make during interactions may depend upon the presence of potential partners nearby, which offers co operators a temptation to defect from the current partner. The parcelling model posits that donors subdivide services into parcels to force cooperation, and that this is contingent on opportunities for defection; that is, the presence of bystanders. Here we test this model and the effect of bystander presence using grooming interactions of wild chimpanzees. We found that with more bystanders, initiators gave less grooming at the beginning of the bout and were more likely to abandon a grooming bout, while bouts were less likely to be reciprocated. We also found that the groomer’s initial investment was not higher among frequent groomers or stronger reciprocators, suggesting that contrary to current assumptions, grooming decisions are not based on trust, or bonds, within dyads. Our work highlights the importance of considering immediate social context and the influence of bystanders for understanding the evolution of the behavioural strategies that produce cooperation.
CitationKaburu, S.S.K., and Newton-Fisher, N.E. (2016) ‘Bystanders, parcelling, and an absence of trust in the grooming interactions of wild male chimpanzees’, Scientific Reports, 6, DOI:10.1038/srep20634
SponsorsLeverhulme Trust (grant # F/00236/Z), Wenner-Gren Foundation (grant # 8216)
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