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Consolation in the aftermath of violent public assaults: An interaction ethological study

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  • Lasse Suonperä Liebst
  • Richard Philpot
  • Peter Ejbye-Ernst
  • Wim Bernasco
  • Marie Bruvik Heinskou
  • Peter Verbeek
  • Mark Levine
  • Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>21/05/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Culture and Evolution
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)99–110
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date6/05/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English


AbstractAnimal ethologists suggest that non-human primates console victims of aggression in a manner similar to humans. However, the empirical basis for this cross-species comparison is fragile, given that few studies have examined consolation behavior among humans. To address this gap, we revive and apply the underappreciated ethological branch of micro-sociology, which advocates the study of human interactions by applying ethological observation techniques. We thus systematically observed naturally occurring human consolation captured by video surveillance cameras in the aftermath of violent public assaults. Consistent with prior human and non-human primate research, social affiliation promoted consolatory helping. By contrast, we found no main effect of sex. A further exploratory analysis indicated an interaction effect between social affiliation and sex, with female affiliates having the largest probability of providing consolation. We discuss implications for the cross-species study of primate consolation and advocate that micro-sociology should reappraise ethological perspectives.