Third-party postconflict affiliation of aggressors in chimpanzees

Teresa Romero*, Frans B. M. De Waal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Postconflict management strategies have been defined as any postconflict interaction that mitigates the negative consequences of the preceding agonistic conflict. Although most studies have investigated postconflict interactions between former opponents or between victims and uninvolved bystanders, interactions between aggressors and bystanders have received much less attention. In this study, we examined a database of 1,102 agonistic interactions and their corresponding postconflict periods in two outdoor-housed groups of captive chimpanzees in order to test the occurrence of postconflict third-party affiliation of aggressors. Our results confirmed the occurrence of appeasement, i.e. postconflict affiliation by a bystander toward an aggressor, but failed to detect the occurrence of postconflict affiliation directed from aggressors toward bystanders. Appeasement rates did not differ according to the sex of the involved individuals. In addition, appeasement occurred more often in the absence of reconciliation than after its occurrence suggesting that appeasement may act as an alternative to reconciliation when the latter fails to occur. Both study groups showed behavioral specificity for appeasement, i.e. context-specific use of certain behaviors, supporting the view that chimpanzees exhibit highly visible explicit postconflict affiliation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-404
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number4
Early online date8 Dec 2010
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • aggressor
  • appeasement
  • Pan troglodytes
  • postconflict behavior

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