Social organization through self-organization: Model and empirical data of macaques

Ivan Puga-Gonzalez

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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In primate societies, individuals seem to trade social services: exchange grooming for the receipt of grooming, support in fights, tolerance, food, sex, etc. Further, after fights individuals seem to reconcile, console, or appease former opponents, especially those opponents considered ‘friends’. These behavioral patterns are usually assumed to illustrate the great intelligence of primates, i.e. that individuals are able to keep track of the records of acts given and received, estimate the value of relationships, understand the emotional state of others, etc. However, nowadays it is known that cognitive capacities of primates, especially monkeys, are limited: they lack an understanding of thoughts, beliefs, and desires of others; and are unable to plan for the future, remember past events, or engage in causal or analogical reasoning. So, if complex cognition is unlikely to explain these seemingly intelligent behaviours, then, what is? The goal of this PhD thesis was to search alternative mechanisms that may answer this question. I extended an individual-based model of grouping and aggression with grooming behavior. In the new model, GrooFiWorld, individuals group and, when nearby each other, they fight if they are likely to win; otherwise, they may groom, especially when they are anxious. These simple cognitive rules in combination with the spatial location of individuals in the group were sufficient to generate all commonly described behavioural patterns (e.g. exchange of grooming for support, reconciliation, consolation) of primate societies, especially macaques. Hopefully, these findings will inspire empirical researchers to investigate the mechanisms suggested by the model.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Hemelrijk, Charlotte, Supervisor
  • Ostner, Julia, Assessment committee, External person
  • Sumpter, David, Assessment committee, External person
  • Verhulst, Simon, Assessment committee
Award date2-May-2014
Place of Publication[S.L.]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-6928-0
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-6927-3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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