In this study, we examined the time frame of reciprocal partner choice in the grooming interactions of captive mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) in order to test the hypothesis that the cognitive limitations of primates constrain the occurrence of reciprocation to short time intervals. In contrast to this hypothesis, mandrills groomed preferentially those individuals that groomed them more even when cases of immediate reciprocation were excluded from the analysis. These results show that mandrills were not limited to reciprocating grooming over short time intervals. It is proposed that a system of emotional bookkeeping may support the ability of primates to reciprocate over long time frames.
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