Lecture: What are Friends For? The Adaptive Value of Social Bonds
Lecture by Joan Silk (Arizona State University)
Group living has evolved in many animal taxa, but humans and other primates are unusual because individuals establish close and lasting social bonds with other members of their groups. Such bonds are particularly pronounced among females in species like baboons, in which females’ social lives revolve around a tight core of close associates, who are mainly close maternal relatives. Data derived from long-term studies of female baboons at several sites in Africa suggest that social bonds help females cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life. In addition, females that have close and stable social bonds reproduce more successfully and live longer than others. These findings closely parallel evidence that social ties have positive effects on physical and mental health in humans. As with baboons, the strength and quality of these bonds are more important than their number. Although we are not yet certain whether the mechanisms that underlie these effects in humans and other primates are the same, it seems likely that the capacity and motivation to establish and nurture close social relationships with others have been under strong selective pressure in the primate lineage for many millions of years.
Part of Themester 2012's Primate Behavior Speaker Series
Sponsored by Center for Integrative Study of Animal Behavior, College of Arts and Sciences - Themester, Cognitive Science Program