Where do we stand with the covariation framework in primate societies? - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles American Journal of Biological Anthropology Year : 2022

Where do we stand with the covariation framework in primate societies?


Comparative study of the social systems of macaques has revealed correlated variations between species in multiple social traits such as the asymmetry of dominance relationships, preferential treatment of kin, patterns of aggression and reconciliation, modes of socialization, and access to food resources. Macaques can be classified on a scale of four categories of social styles, ranging from the least to the most tolerant species. This led to the development of the covariation framework, which addresses the constraints responsible for the linkages between social traits, and their consequences on the evolution of primate social systems. Decades of research have provided a wealth of information that supports, complements, expands, or challenges the covariation framework. In this article, I review this body of knowledge and consider covariation in its two aspects, that is, as a pattern and as a hypothesis. I first consider the extent to which social styles can be invariant, the strength of correlations between traits, and the possible extension of the framework to nonhuman primates other than macaques. I then discuss how to formulate hypotheses, identify sources of linkage between traits, make predictions about the effects of social constraints, assess the tolerance dimension of social styles, and consider the breaking of linkages between traits. Whereas socioecological studies aim to understand how adaptation to the ecological environment determines the shape of social systems, the covariation framework is a complementary research program that seeks to unravel the internal processes that restrict or channel change in social behavior.

Dates and versions

hal-03746201 , version 1 (05-08-2022)



Bernard Thierry. Where do we stand with the covariation framework in primate societies?. American Journal of Biological Anthropology, 2022, 178 (S74), pp.5-25. ⟨10.1002/ajpa.24441⟩. ⟨hal-03746201⟩
21 View
0 Download



Gmail Mastodon Facebook X LinkedIn More