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Effects of Mother's Rearing Condition and Multiple Motherhood On the Early Development of Mother-Infant Interactions in Java-Macaques (Macaca Fascicularis)

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In this study we investigated the effects of a mother's social rearing condition and her parity on maternal behaviour, infant behaviour and behavioural development during the infant's first ten days. With respect to parity two classes were involved: primiparae (PR), and pluriparae (PL) with at least a 5th infant. For the primiparae two rearing conditions were involved: having grown up within the family group (FPR) which included mother, other mothers, juveniles and babies, and having grown up in a peer group (PPR) with no other companions than animals of the same age. All pluriparae were group-reared. It appeared that maternal and infant behaviour and behavioural development were not influenced by the mother's own rearing condition, but they were affected by earlier experience with motherhood. All PPR mothers were adequate mothers and, in the first ten postpartum days, PPR and FPR mothers displayed nearly the same degree of restrictive infant-directed behaviour, which may be due to the novelty of having a baby. It is probably due to restriction that PR infants became not as active and explorative as PL infants in their first ten days. PL mothers were more permissive and rarely rejective. We found no support for the being-properly-mothered hypothesis, the observing-how-to-mother, and the learning-to-mother (by play) hypotheses, or the maternal rejection hypothesis. Mothers become less infant-directed and less restrictive and give the infant a wide action radius by habituating to and practising with their own infant. Within the limits of the cage and with only the mother present, it is primarily the infant that takes the initiative to make excursions.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands


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