Special Reviews

Primates--A Natural Heritage of Conflict Resolution

Science  28 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5479, pp. 586-590
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5479.586

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Abstract

The traditional notion of aggression as an antisocial instinct is being replaced by a framework that considers it a tool of competition and negotiation. When survival depends on mutual assistance, the expression of aggression is constrained by the need to maintain beneficial relationships. Moreover, evolution has produced ways of countering its disruptive consequences. For example, chimpanzees kiss and embrace after fights, and other nonhuman primates engage in similar “reconciliations.” Theoretical developments in this field carry implications for human aggression research. From families to high schools, aggressive conflict is subject to the same constraints known of cooperative animal societies. It is only when social relationships are valued that one can expect the full complement of natural checks and balances.

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