Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


  • Jennifer ColbourneEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_600-1



Attraction to and/or positive behavior toward strangers.


Xenophilia has only rarely been documented in nature. Because strangers often represent a threat to one’s resources, territory, and mating success, there is often little evolutionary payoff for acting prosocially toward unknown individuals, and potentially great costs for doing so (Temeles 1994; Wilson 1975). However, there are some circumstances where natural selection has favored positive interactions with strangers.


As a mechanism to avoid inbreeding in social living animals, young males or females may disperse to a new social group (Clutton-Brock 1989). Although the introduction of a stranger to a group can result in aggression and tension (Fragaszy et al. 1994), it is not unusual for opposite-sex individuals to be attracted to the newcomer, and in some cases may even protect them from attacks from other members of the group (Wade 1976)....

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Suzanne MacDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada