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Abstract

In several studies of social monitoring in primates, subordinate animals directed more visual attention toward dominant animals than vice versa. This behavior is thought to enable subordinate animals to avoid conflict. We sought to clarify whether visual attention behavior functions in this manner in a small captive group of brown capuchin monkeys, Cebus apella. We tested the hypothesis that social monitoring is related to dominance status. Dominance status was determined based on the directionality of aggressive behavior, and visual attention was quantified by using focal animal sampling. Subordinate animals directed significantly more visual attention toward others than dominant animals. Subordinate animals also looked more frequently at the animals that attacked them and others the most. The results indicate that social monitoring behavior in this captive group was driven by conflict-avoidance.