Theses Doctoral

Moving Past Conflict: How Locomotion Facilitates Reconciliation in Humans and Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Webb, Christine Elizabeth

Social animals must overcome conflicts, an inherent and often detrimental consequence of gregarious life. One strategy for doing so is reconciliation, or post-conflict affiliation between former opponents. In humans and other primates, this behavior is often assumed to require a switch between opposing motivational states (e.g., anti- to pro-social). In this thesis, I argue that reconciliation is facilitated by an underlying individual tendency for movement and change between states, a motivation known as locomotion. Section one of this thesis uses a longitudinal, observational approach to establish stable individual differences in chimpanzee reconciliation while controlling for numerous relational factors known to influence the occurrence of this behavior. These individual differences are then related to several behavioral proxies of locomotion motivation. Section two of this thesis explores the relation between locomotion and conflict resolution in humans, using a range of methodological approaches and measures, including hypothetical scenarios, experimental inductions, essay studies, narrative reflections, and dyadic interactions. I conclude by emphasizing the importance of going beyond relational and other instrumental approaches to conflict resolution in order to understand more fundamental individual motivations underlying reconciliation behavior. If an individual motive to effect change and therefore resolve conflict in turn impacts one’s social relationships, it has even broader significance. Across the primate order, the influence and importance of such relationships suggest the potential role of reconciliatory motivations when it comes to individual survival, health, and overall well-being.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Higgins, E. Tory
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 12, 2015