From: University of California - Davis
Published October 19, 2017 12:58 PM

Scientists Map Monogamy, Jealousy in the Monkey Mind

It’s perhaps one of the most common emotions to feel in a relationship, but one that’s virtually untouched when it comes to studying relationships in monogamous primate species. What scientists have recently discovered about jealousy in pair-bonded titi monkeys at the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) offers insight into human emotions and their consequences.

Coppery titi monkeys are among the world’s three-to-five percent of animals that form lifelong, monogamous pair bonds. Much like humans, the titi monkeys form an attachment with their partner, exhibit mate-guarding behavior and become distressed when they are separated from each other.

“They have behavior and emotions that we recognize as close to how we feel,” said Dr. Karen Bales, the CNPRC Core Scientist who conducted the study, along with Dr. Nicole Maninger, a post-doctoral associate at the CNPRC. “The idea behind all of this is we have to first understand the way that the neurobiology of social bonding works normally before we can understand what happens in situations where social bonding, social behavior or social communication is impaired. For instance, in disorders like autism or schizophrenia.”

Bales and her colleagues simulated a “jealousy condition,” in male monkeys by separating them from their pair-bonded female partners. The females were placed with a stranger male monkey in full view of their partner while the researchers filmed the behavior of the male partner for 30 minutes.  The control condition consisted of the male subject viewing a stranger male and a stranger female next to each other.

Read more at University of California - Davis

Image: Titi monkeys housed at the California National Primate Research Center form lifelong, monogamous pair bonds. A recent study investigated jealousy in pair-bonded primate species, offering insight into human behavior and emotions (Credit: K.West/CNPRC)

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