What Are Friends For?


Dr. Joan Silk of Arizona State University

Prof. Joan Silk from Arizona State University will be at Indiana University, Bloomington on Thursday, November 15 to deliver a lecture on “What are friends for? The adaptive value of social bonds.” 

Prof. Silk’s research concerns the role of competition and conflict among primates and the importance of social bonds in negotiating a complex, competitive social environment.  She has examined grooming patterns and their relationship to coalition formation, reconciliation in primate societies, and factors that influence female reproductive success. 

While widely known for her studies of baboons, Dr. Silk’s expertise extends to many species of primate including chimpanzees and humans. 

Baboon friends engaged in grooming
Baboon friends engaged in grooming

According to Dr. Silk, “Having friends is important for us and for female baboons—and maybe for some of the same reasons”.  She continued, “Our findings are strikingly similar to evidence from humans showing that social ties have important effects on our mental and physical health and our longevity. We suspect that the human motivation to form close and lasting friendships has a very long evolutionary history.”

Dr. Silk’s lecture is free and open to the public, beginning at 5:30 pm in the Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union. The event is part of the Primate Behavior Speaker Series and is co-sponsored by the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior, and the College of Arts and Science’s Themester.


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