Infant-directed behavior in young rhesus monkeys: Sex differences and effects of prenatal androgens



Young (3–4 years old) laboratory-reared rhesus monkeys were observed in five 15-minute tests with 1–15-day-old infants. Males and females were equally likely to investigate infants. Females communicated more with infants by grin-lipsmacking and gurgling–-gestures that were not shown by any males. More females presented the ventrum to infants than did males. Females contacted infants more than did males by grooming, crouching over, and having full body contact with them. To see whether prenatal androgens produced the male pattern of response, we conducted similar tests with pseudohermaphrodites (prenatally androgenized genetic females) and neonatally castrated males. On most sexually dimorphic behaviors, pseudohermaphrodites behaved more like females than like males. Castrated males, like females and pseudohermaphrodites, crouched over infants more than did intact males. Castrated males differed from females only on one infant-directed response, the grin-lipsmack. These comparisons showed that defeminization of the repertoire of infant-directed responses was measurable only in intact males. We conclude accordingly that prenatal androgens alone are not responsible for defeminization of this repertoire and that a contribution from postnatal androgens is likely to be necessary.