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Keywords:

  • Rhesus monkeys;
  • Quantitative analysis;
  • Social behavior

Abstract

The effect of role relations on social interaction in small groups of rhesus monkeys was examined quantitatively, through use of an interval scale of social behavior. Concurrent pair interactions were tabulated for all possible combinations in 24 triad groups: Six groups containing three males; six groups containing three females; six groups of one male, two females; and six groups of two males and one female. A specific behavior which involves participation of all three animals at once, the incitement interaction, was found to quantitatively alter each monkey's reaction to other social behaviors displayed at the same time. The interaction demonstrates the monkeys' attention to and manipulation of role relations. In all triad types one could quantitatively document the fact that the most subordinate monkey established a role with the most dominant monkey which allowed it some freedom to behave less submissively when interacting with the middle ranking monkey. This general phenomenon in role relations may contribute to group cohesiveness.