Building Strong Bonds: Lessons from Baboons
Sociality has evolved in many animal taxa, and reflects a balance between the benefits of living in groups (such as lower risk of predation and greater success in contests with other groups) and costs (greater competition over resources and exposure to infectious disease). Evolution has favored traits that enable individuals to increase the benefit/cost ratio. In some species, close social bonds may have evolved because they provide a means for individuals to increase the benefits and reduce the costs of social life. Baboon females form strong, equitable, supportive, tolerant, and stable social relationships with selected partners, particularly close kin, peers, and the sires of their offspring. These social ties help females cope with various sources of short-term stress, and females with close social bonds also reproduce more successfully and live longer than other females. I will discuss these findings and their implications for understanding the importance of social connections in humans.
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