Pomerantz, O., Capitanio, J. P. 2021. Temperament predicts the quality of social interactions in captive female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Animals 11(8), 2452.
Previous reports suggest that female macaques with greater similarity in emotionality and nervous temperament, as evaluated in a well-established BioBehavioral Assessment (BBA) at the California National Primate Research Center, were more likely to form successful pairs. We tested whether the same measures can also predict the quality of social interactions among 20 female rhesus macaque pairs. We correlated the pairs’ emotionality and nervous temperament scores obtained in infancy and the levels of behaviors recorded systematically during the pairing process years later. Supporting previous findings, partners with similar emotionality scores were more affiliative, and pairs with similar nervous temperament expressed less dominance/submissive behavior. Exploratorily, we found that pairs that were better at processing social information (part of BBA) were also more anxious. Such animals should be prioritized to be introduced in rooms that house calmer, less aggressive animals and provide opportunities for hiding to alleviate their anxiety. Indeed, positive social experiences not only promote animal welfare, but also reduce stress related confounds and unexplained data variability. Therefore, by incorporating the animals’ temperament into the pair configuration process we increase the likelihood of forming high-quality pairs, both in terms of welfare and the research of which they are a part.