Abstract # 76:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2005 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: (Cambridge/Oxford Room) Poster Presentation

Similarity in Temperament between Mothers and Offspring: A preliminary report

E. C. Sullivan1,2, W. A. Mason1,2 and J. P. Capitanio1,2
1Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, One Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95616, USA, 2California National Primate Research Center
     Mothers and offspring share genes and environments; one would therefore expect greater similarities in temperament between mothers and offspring, than between mothers and non-offspring. In nonhuman primates, however, few studies address this issue. We assessed temperament in 3-4 month old rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) as part of a colony-wide program identifying individual differences in biobehavioral organization. Infants were separated from their mothers for a 24-hour period and experienced a standardized set of biobehavioral assessments, including observer ratings of infants’ traits using a Likert-type scale. Temperament factor scores for infants tested in 2004 were compared to factor scores of their mothers that had been tested in 2001 when the mothers were themselves 3-4 months of age. Mothers’ scores were also compared to scores of control infants matched for homecage and sex. For the Activity/Depressed/Vigilant factor, mothers’ scores were significantly correlated with offspring (r = 0.699, P = 0.05) but not with controls’ (r = 0.101, P = 0.82) scores. Correlations for the other two factors (Confident/Bold and Calm/Curious/Playful) were not significant, possibly owing to small sample size (n = 8 pairs) or restriction of range in factor scores. These data suggest similarity in at least one factor of temperament between mothers and offspring. Examination of additional data from this project, as well as increasing the sample size as more animals reach reproductive age, will help to clarify our understanding of mother-offspring similarity in basic psychosocial processes.