Urinary oxytocin and social bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees

C. Crockford, R. M. Wittig, Kevin Langergraber, T. E. Ziegler, K. Zuberbühler, T. Deschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

145 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Animals that maintain cooperative relationships show gains in longevity and offspring survival. However, little is known about the cognitive or hor-monal mechanisms involved in cooperation. Indeed, there is little support for a main hypothesis that non-human animals have the cognitive capacities required for bookkeeping of cooperative exchanges. We tested an alternative hypothesis that cooperative relationships are facilitated by an endocrino-logical mechanism involving oxytocin, a hormone required for bonding in parental and sexual relationships across mammals. We measured urinary oxytocin after single bouts of grooming in wild chimpanzees. Oxytocin levels were higher after grooming with bond partners compared with non-bond partners or after no grooming, regardless of genetic relatedness or sexual interest. We ruled out other possible confounds, such as grooming duration, grooming direction or sampling regime issues, indicating that changes in oxytocin levels were mediated by social bond strength. Oxytocin, which is thought to act directly on neural reward and social memory systems, is likely to play a key role in keeping track of social interactions with multiple individuals over time. The evolutionary linkage of an ances-tral hormonal system with complex social cognition may be the primary mechanism through which long-term cooperative relationships develop between both kin and non-kin in mammals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume280
Issue number1755
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 22 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

social cohesion
Grooming
grooming
Pan troglodytes
oxytocin
Oxytocin
cooperatives
Mammals
Animals
mammal
bookkeeping
mammals
animal
cognition
Interpersonal Relations
Reward
relatedness
Cognition
genetic relationships
hormone

Keywords

  • Cooperation
  • Emotional
  • Oxytocin
  • Social bonds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Urinary oxytocin and social bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees. / Crockford, C.; Wittig, R. M.; Langergraber, Kevin; Ziegler, T. E.; Zuberbühler, K.; Deschner, T.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 280, No. 1755, 22.03.2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Crockford, C. ; Wittig, R. M. ; Langergraber, Kevin ; Ziegler, T. E. ; Zuberbühler, K. ; Deschner, T. / Urinary oxytocin and social bonding in related and unrelated wild chimpanzees. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2013 ; Vol. 280, No. 1755.
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