Abstract # 4467 Event # 43:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 20, 2013 03:30 PM-03:45 PM: Session 7 (Las Olas) Oral Presentation


T. M. Mandalaywala1, E. J. Bethell2, K. J. Parker3 and D. Maestripieri1
1Institute for Mind and Biology, The University of Chicago, 940 E. 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA, 2Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Paleoecology, School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK, L3 3AF, 3Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, 1201 Welch Rd,, MSLS P-104, Stanford, CA 94305
     Humans exhibit a variety of cognitive biases, such as negativity bias in which negative stimuli are more salient than positive or neutral stimuli. Due to the potential survival value of recognizing and attending to negative stimuli (e.g. predators, threatening conspecifics) and the ubiquity of this bias across social and non-social domains, it has been suggested that the negativity bias has functional value, should be present in a variety of species, and should emerge early in development. However, this bias has rarely been studied outside adult humans. Here, we present the first study of negativity bias in free-ranging infant rhesus macaques. Using a looking-time paradigm to test 47 eight to ten-month olds, we found that subjects spent more time looking at a stimulus of an aggressive male rhesus macaque face (open-mouth threat) than the same male displaying a neutral face (p = 0.027). Moreover, the strength of this bias was variable across infants; time spent looking at the aggressive stimulus was predicted by the rank of the mother, with infants of high-ranked mothers looking more at the aggressive face than infants born to low or middle-ranked mothers (p = 0.041). Our results suggest that: 1) negativity bias is present across taxa and emerges early in development, and 2) inter-individual differences in this bias appear to be shaped by maternal qualities and possibly the early social environment.