Evolution of social relationships in humans and other animals
Longterm relationships of mutual affection and support, also called friendships, seemingly defy expectations of evolutionary theory. Friends cooperate, support, and sacrifice time and resources for one another without the benefits gained via kin selection or a concern for direct reciprocity. I will present convergent evidence on close affiliative relationships in nonhuman animals revealing the evolutionary origin of human friendships.
We are human, because we are social. Our behaviour, our well-being, even our identity depend on the degree to which we are connected with our fellow humans. How did this central human ability evolve? In one of the most extensive field studies on wild Assam Macacs, the roots of our social skills are explored. What is the cognitive base for male friendship or for the relation between mother and child. Which role does sociality play for survival and propagation, how does it help to cope with parasites or diseases?
After studying psychology and biology in Trier and Göttingen, Julia Ostner completed her Ph.D. in Würzburg and at the primate centre Göttingen and worked then for two years as Feodor Lynen Fellow at the Department for Anthropologie of the New York State University, before moving to the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, from where she got a call as Junior Professor in 2008 at Göttingen University, where she holds since 2014 the Chair for Zoology and Anthropology. Her research topics are the evolution of sociality, the hormonal base of behaviour, and sexual selection in primates.