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Social Roles in a Rhesus Monkey Group

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A group of eleven rhesus monkeys selected to approximate a small natural group were allowed to establish a social organization and to live with minimal disturbance in a specially designed compound. Observations were made on a variety of social and individual activities with some manipulation of feeding used to get at specific behavior patterns. Quantitative data on the frequency of activities for each member of the group was obtained. Individual animals were found to fall into subgroup classification in terms of activity patterns observed. This role differentiation was consistent despite minor modifications observed in some individuals. The subgroups correspond by the large to morphological divisions of size and sex, but status also contributed to the differentiation of roles. The role of the dominant male was analyzed in detail and found to supercede that of simple preempting of incentives. Less elaborate analyses were made for other clearly differentiated roles in the group.

Affiliations: 1: Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University, Orange Park, Florida, U.S.A.


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