Consolation in the aftermath of robberies resembles post-aggression consolation in chimpanzees

PLoS One. 2017 May 31;12(5):e0177725. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177725. eCollection 2017.


Post-aggression consolation is assumed to occur in humans as well as in chimpanzees. While consolation following peer aggression has been observed in children, systematic evidence of consolation in human adults is rare. We used surveillance camera footage of the immediate aftermath of nonfatal robberies to observe the behaviors and characteristics of victims and bystanders. Consistent with empathy explanations, we found that consolation was linked to social closeness rather than physical closeness. While females were more likely to console than males, males and females were equally likely to be consoled. Furthermore, we show that high levels of threat during the robbery increased the likelihood of receiving consolation afterwards. These patterns resemble post-aggression consolation in chimpanzees and suggest that emotions of empathic concern are involved in consolation across humans and chimpanzees.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Pan troglodytes / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Behavior*

Grant support

Data collection was supported by the Police and Science grant program of the Netherlands National Police (grant no. PW/OC/2014/07). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.