Abstract # 187:

Scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2005 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: (Cambridge/Oxford Room) Poster Presentation

Social referencing and emotional bonds in 1-year-old chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

I. Scott1, K. Bard1, M. H. van IJzendoorn2 and M. J. Bakermans-Kranenburg2
1University of Portsmouth, King Henry Building, King Henry 1 Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire P01 2DY, United Kingdom, 2Leiden University Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden, The Netherlands
     Attachment theory suggests that an attachment figure functions as an emotional ‘secure base.’ The aim of this study was to ascertain whether 1-year-old chimpanzees might use their attachment figure as a source of information about ambiguous events. Social referencing is usually tested toward a neutral toy, but here we used a social object, i.e., a stranger. The visual behavior of 1-year-old chimpanzees (n = 34) was assessed during a 3-minute exposure to a stranger while in the presence of their most preferred caregiver. Social referencing, defined as a bout of gaze alternation between the stranger and the caregiver within 2 seconds, occurred in 33 of the 34 chimpanzees. The number of alternations within each bout was counted, e.g., gaze to the mother, stranger, and mother was counted as 3 (2 was the minimum, and 5+ was the maximum). Significant relations were found between number of alternations within a bout and security of attachment. More insecurely attached infants than expected, and fewer securely attached infants than expected, used 3 alternations within a bout, χ2(1) = 5.69, P < 0.01. Additionally, more insecurely attached infants than expected, and fewer securely infants than expected, used 4 gaze alternations within a bout, χ2(1) = 8.99, P < 0.01. These significant relations suggest that social referencing is related to emotional bonds. Further studies are needed to ascertain the mechanism by which emotional bonds influence gaze behavior.