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2015 Abstracts

Social Environment Predicts Temperament of Infant Rhesus Macaques

Stephen Anderson and Cat Stewart, Brigham Young University

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Research shows that infant temperament can serve as a predictor of childhood, adolescent, and to some extent, adult social behaviors. Because infant temperament is thought to be the foundation for personality and behavior, it is important to understand factors that influence the development of infant temperament. At the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC), infant rhesus macaques undergo a bio-behavioral assessment used to evaluate temperament. Infants are evaluated on multiple behaviors, which are used to determine temperament ratings for temperaments such as confidence, gentleness, nervousness, and vigilance. We used data collected from over 2700 infant rhesus monkeys born at the CNPRC between the years of 2001 and 2012. Our goal was to measure whether infant temperament is modulated by “culture”, as measured by differences in the infant’s temperament stratified by home cage (a large open field cage that houses about 100 to 150 animals). Twenty-two cages were included in the analysis, with each cage housing from 25 to 210 infants .We hypothesized that based on difference in treatment between cages, infants would display temperaments related to cage culture. Our analysis showed that the cage social environment significantly predict infant temperament across each of the temperamental traits measured. Our findings suggest that social environment and culture influences temperament and likely predicts future behavior.