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date: 20 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

An emergent literature illustrates some mechanisms by which social bonds are maintained throughout the animal kingdom. Examples of social bonds include parent–offspring bonds, monogamous pair-bonds, and friendships. Each type of bond involves a set of behaviors that can impose paradoxical physiological consequences. Testosterone levels, for example, are generally low during displays of parental care and high for infant defense, two behaviors that are necessary for maintaining parent–offspring bonds. This chapter details instances where social bonds may force physiological trade-offs in oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, and cortisol signaling. Specifically, it examines the endocrine trade-offs necessary for balancing mating and parenting behaviors; affiliation with mating and parenting; group stability among dominant and subordinate individuals; and multiple strong, simultaneous bonds across individuals. The synthesis provides evidence of physiological trade-offs as an explanation for social paradoxes and provides a framework for further exploration into the understanding of hormone mediation of social bond maintenance.

Keywords: social bond paradoxes, vasopressin, oxytocin, testosterone, cortisol, social behavior, physiological trade-offs

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