Monkey See Affects Monkey Do: Does Visual Perspective Influence partner Preference In A Callitrichid Monkey?

Open Access
Graves, Helen Marie
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 30, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Daniel J Weiss, Thesis Advisor
  • tamarin
  • callitrichid
  • monogamy
  • partner preference
  • pairbond
  • Saguinus oedipus
Past research demonstrates that social context modulates nonhuman primate social behavior. In partner preference tests with cotton-top tamarin monkeys (Saguinus oedipus), focal animals spent more time investigating opposite sex strangers when their mate could not see them compared to when they could. It is unclear what aspect of social context drives this change in behavior. Changes in the focal monkey's social preferences may be due to the obstruction of the mate's view, suggesting the focal is sensitive to the knowledge state of others, or the obstruction of its own view, in which case the sensitivity to the knowledge state of others is undetermined. In this study, cotton-top tamarins explored a Y-maze in which their mate and an opposite sex unfamiliar monkey were placed at opposing ends of the maze. Visual access among the animals was manipulated across experiments such that all animals had full visual access to each other, visual access for all monkeys was occluded, or the focal monkey and its mate’s visual access was differentially occluded. Monkeys spent more time with the mate when the mate’s visual access was unoccluded and when visual access was differentially occluded among members of the triad. This suggests that cotton-top tamarins modulate their social behavior based on visual state of others.