Abstract # 179:

Scheduled for Friday, August 18, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 17 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation


Are infants like their mothers? An analysis of temperament in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)

E. C. Sullivan1,2, W. A. Mason1,2 and J. P. Capitanio1,2
1University of California, Davis, Department of Psychology, One Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95616, USA, 2California National Primate Research Center
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     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. Temperament was assessed in 3-4 month old rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) using a 7-point Likert-type scale at the conclusion of a standardized 24-hour biobehavioral assessment. Animals that were assessed as infants have subsequently reproduced and their offspring have also been evaluated (n = 46). Mothers’ scores at 3-4 months of age were significantly correlated with those of their offspring on a rating of Fearful (r = 0.393, p = 0.0065). There was also a trend for a relationship between mother and offspring scores on an Activity Factor (Active/Vigilant/reverse-scored Depressed: r = 0.256, p = 0.0865). Interestingly, a subset of females (n = 14) had scores that were negatively correlated with their mothers’ scores on an Engagement Factor (Calm/Curious/Playful: r = -0.699, p = 0.004). Mothers’ scores were not correlated with scores for non-related, homecage-, and sex-matched control infants for any of these temperamental factors (Fearful: r = 0.034, p = 0.82; Activity: r = .063, p = 0.68; Engagement: r = -0.178, p = 0.53). These findings demonstrate considerable relationships between mothers and their offspring on basic dimensions of temperament assessed using standardized procedures at comparable ages. The mechanisms of this similarity (genetics, experience) remain to be explored.