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How Do You Measure Pleasure? A Discussion About Intrinsic Costs and Benefits in Primate Allogrooming

33 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2013  

Yvan I. Russell

University of Goettingen (Gottingen); University of Oxford

Steve Phelps

Department of Informatics, King's College London

Date Written: October 14, 2013

Abstract

Social grooming is an important element of social life in terrestrial primates, inducing the putative benefits of β-endorphin stimulation and group harmony and cohesion. Implicit in many analyses of grooming (e.g. biological markets) are the assumptions of costs and benefits to grooming behaviour. Here, in a review of literature, we investigate the proximate costs and benefits of grooming, as a potentially useful explanatory substrate to the well-documented ultimate (functional) explanations. We find that the hedonic benefits of grooming are well documented. However, we did not find convincing evidence for costs. If proximate costs do exist, they might consist of energetic, cognitive, opportunity costs, or some combination of all of these. Nonetheless, there remains the possibility that grooming costs are negligible, or even that the provision of allogrooming is rewarding in itself. We suggest empirical research to resolve this issue.

Keywords: grooming, value, sociality, primates, game theory

Suggested Citation

Russell, Yvan I. and Phelps, Steve, How Do You Measure Pleasure? A Discussion About Intrinsic Costs and Benefits in Primate Allogrooming (October 14, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2339956 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2339956

Yvan I. Russell (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Platz der Gottinger Sieben 3
Gottingen, D-37073
Germany

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Steve Phelps

Department of Informatics, King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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