Behavioral and hormonal changes following social instability in young rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

Wooddell, L.J., Kaburu, S.S.K. ORCID: 0000-0001-7456-3269 and Dettmer, A.M., 2021. Behavioral and hormonal changes following social instability in young rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 135 (4), pp. 568-580. ISSN 0735-7036

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Social instability (SI) occurs when there is competition over social status. Reduced certainty of social status can lead to heightened aggression, which can increase physiological stress responses as individuals prepare to fight for their social status. However, adults can use proactive coping mechanisms to reduce the physiological stress induced by SI, such as increasing affiliation. Very little is known, however, about the behavioral and hormonal effects of SI early in development. Filling these gaps in knowledge would add to the fields of primatology and developmental and comparative psychology. We conducted an opportunistic study of a peer group of 18 rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) yearlings before and during SI. We used social network analysis to measure individuals’ dominance certainty (DC; in their aggressive and submissive network) and their position in affiliative networks (grooming and play) and analyzed hair cortisol concentrations (HCCs). As predicted, during SI, we observed a decrease in DC, indicating that individuals had less stable dominance positions. As well, during SI, we observed increased rates of social grooming and decreased rates of social play, reflecting potential coping mechanisms. More socially connected individuals in social grooming and social play networks received higher levels of coalitionary support. Contrary to predictions, DC did not predict HCCs; rather, individuals that were more connected in the social play network exhibited smaller increases in HCCs during SI, revealing a potential buffering effect of social play. Our results underscore the need for further research on the effects of SI during ontogeny. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Comparative Psychology
Creators: Wooddell, L.J., Kaburu, S.S.K. and Dettmer, A.M.
Publisher: American Psychological Association (APA)
Date: November 2021
Volume: 135
Number: 4
ISSN: 0735-7036
Rights: © 2021, American Psychological Association. This manuscript is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors’ permission. The final version of record is available via its DOI:
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 20 Sep 2023 08:39
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2023 08:39

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