Orlaith N. Fraser (Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna)
Thomas Bugnyar (Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle, Grünau, Austria und Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna)
The quality of a social relationship represents the history of past social interactions between two individuals, from which the nature and outcome of future interactions can be predicted. Current theory predicts that relationship quality comprises three separate components, its value, compatibility and security. This study is the first to investigate the components of relationship quality in a large-brained bird. Following methods recently used to obtain quantitative measures of each relationship quality component in chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, we entered data on seven behavioural variables from a group of 11 ravens, Corvus corax, into a principal components analysis. The characteristics of the extracted components matched those predicted for value, compatibility and security, and were labelled as such. When the effects of kinship and sex combination on each relationship quality component were analysed, we found that kin had more valuable relationships, whereas females had less secure and compatible relationships, although the effect of sex combination on compatibility only applied to nonkin. These patterns are consistent with what little knowledge we have of raven relationships from aviary studies and show that the components of relationship quality in ravens may indeed be analogous to those in chimpanzees.
Read the article: The quality of social relationships in ravens