Precise time-matching in chimpanzee allogrooming does not occur after a short delay

Phelps, Steve, Ng, Wing Lon, Musolesi, Mirco and Russell, Yvan I. ORCID logoORCID: (2018) Precise time-matching in chimpanzee allogrooming does not occur after a short delay. PLoS One, 13 (9) , e0201810. pp. 1-26. ISSN 1932-6203 [Article] (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0201810)

PDF - Published version (with publisher's formatting)
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Allogrooming is a key aspect of chimpanzee sociality and many studies have investigated the role of reciprocity in a biological market. One theoretical form of reciprocity is time-matching, where payback consists of an equal duration of effort (e.g. twenty seconds of grooming repaid with twenty seconds of grooming). Here, we report a study of allogrooming in a group of twenty-six captive chimpanzees (Chester Zoo, UK), based on more than 150 hours of data. For analysis, we introduce a methodological innovation called the "Delta scale", which unidimensionally measures the accuracy of time-matching according to the extent of delay after the cessation of grooming. Delta is positive when reciprocation occurs after any non-zero delay (e.g. A grooms B and then B grooms A after a five second break) and it is negative when reciprocation begins whilst the original grooming has not yet ceased. Using a generalized linear mixed-method, we found evidence for time matched reciprocation. However, this was true only for immediate reciprocation (Delta less than zero). If there was a temporal break in grooming between two members of a dyad, then there was no evidence that chimpanzees were using new bouts to retroactively correct for time-matching imbalances from previous bouts. Our results have implications for some of the cognitive constraints that differentiate real-life reciprocation from abstract theoretical models. Furthermore, we suggest that some apparent patterns of time-matched reciprocity may arise merely due to the law of large numbers, and we introduce a statistical test which takes this into account when aggregating grooming durations over a window of time.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Behavioural Biology group
Item ID: 24939
Notes on copyright: Copyright: © 2018 Phelps et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Yvan Russell
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2018 11:17
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 19:39

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.