Abstract # 6022 Event # 31:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 13, 2014 04:20 PM-04:35 PM: Session 9 (Mary Gay) Symposium


J. Capitanio
University of California, Davis, California National Primate Research Center, Davis, CA 95616, USA
     Loneliness, the perception of not being socially connected, results from a discrepancy between desired and actual social experience, and there is no fundamental reason why it might be specific to humans. As the first step of an ongoing study, we sought to determine whether basic elements of loneliness underlie known variability between adult male rhesus macaques in their tendency to affiliate. We recorded behavior of animals in their half-acre cages, rated animals on a well-validated scale of Sociability, and identified low-Sociable (LS) and high-Sociable (HS) males. Behaviors of LS animals that reflect tentative social interest (proximity and walk-by) were cluster-analyzed, and two groups were identified: those that show low interest (truly LS, TLS), and those that show higher interest (manifestly LS, MLS). While MLS animals’ levels of tentative interest were more similar to those of HS animals, their levels of complex interaction (proximity, contact, grooming) were more similar to those of TLS animals. Further analyses revealed that MLS animals’ preferred targets of interaction were “safe” targets (e.g., juveniles), and subsequent experimental probe tests confirmed that MLS animals seem to have higher social interest than do TLS animals. Together, these data suggest that nonhuman primates may provide a valuable animal model to better understand how chronic loneliness contributes to poor health as people age.