Baxter, A., Lau, A. R., Savidge, L. E. et al. 2023. Initial compatibility during a “Speed-Dating” test predicts postpairing affiliation in titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus). American Journal of Primatology 85(7), e23496.

Behavioral compatibility plays a critical role in shaping how potential mates interact with and evaluate each other and whether they choose to pursue a relationship. Compatibility is especially important for mate choice and relationship quality in pair-bonding species that form long-term attachments between mates. Although this process has been studied in humans and birds, relatively few studies have investigated it in non-human primates. In this study, we investigated whether pairing titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus) based on initial compatibility increased postpairing affiliation between mates. Subjects were 12 unpaired adult titi monkeys (two cohorts of three males and three females). We determined each subject's initial interest in each opposite-sex potential mate in their cohort across a series of six 30-min interaction periods (i.e., “speed-dates”). To determine initial compatibility, we used the Social Relations Model to calculate relationship effects in initial interest (how much each subject uniquely preferred each potential mate beyond their own affiliative disposition and their partner's popularity). We then paired monkeys in a way that maximized net relationship effects between pairs, and measured longitudinal pair affiliation (Proximity, Contact, Tail Twining, and Combined Affiliation) for 6 months postpairing using daily scan-sample observations and monthly home-cage video recordings. Multilevel models showed that, on average, the six speed-dating pairs exhibited higher levels of Tail Twining (determined from scan-sample observations; β = 0.31) compared to a group of 13 age-matched colony pairs that were determined quasi-randomly without quantifying compatibility. The degree of initial compatibility within speed-dating pairs also predicted higher levels of Combined Affiliation (determined from video recordings) at earlier post-pairing time points, with the association peaking at 2 months postpairing (β = 0.57). These findings suggest that initial compatibility facilitates pair bonding in titi monkeys. We conclude by discussing how the speed-dating design can be used for colony management to inform pair-housing decisions.