Making amends: Adaptive perspectives on conflict remediation in monkeys, apes, and humans

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Conflict is an integral, and potentially disruptive, element in the lives of humans and other group-living animals. But conflicts are often settled, sometimes within minutes after the altercation has ended. The goal of this paper is to understand why primates, including humans, make amends. Primatologists have gathered an impressive body of evidence which demonstrates that monkeys and apes use a variety of behavioral mechanisms to resolve conflicts. Peaceful post-conflict interactions in nonhuman primates, sometimes labeled "reconciliation," have clear and immediate effects upon former adversaries, relieving uncertainty about whether aggression will continue, reducing stress, increasing tolerance, and reducing anxiety about whether aggressors will resume aggression toward former victims. However, the long-term effects of these interactions are less clearly established, leaving room to debate the adaptive function of conflict resolution strategies among primates. It is possible that reconciliatory behavior enhances the quality of valued, long-term social relationships or that reconciliatory interactions are signals that the conflict has ended and the actor's intentions are now benign. Both of these hypotheses may help us to understand how and why monkeys, apes, and humans make amends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-368
Number of pages28
JournalHuman Nature
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Apologies
  • Conflict
  • Conflict resolution
  • Forgiveness
  • Reconciliation
  • Signals of intent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Making amends: Adaptive perspectives on conflict remediation in monkeys, apes, and humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this