Pomerantz, O., Terkel, J., Suomi, S. J. et al. 2012. Stereotypic head twirls, but not pacing, are related to a ‘pessimistic’-like judgment bias among captive tufted capuchins (Cebus apella). Animal Cognition 15(4), 689–698.

Abnormal stereotypic behaviour is widespread among captive non-human primates and is generally associated with jeopardized well-being. However, attributing the same significance to all of these repetitive, unvarying and apparently functionless behaviours may be misleading, as some behaviours may be better indicators of stress than others. Previous studies have demonstrated that the affective state of the individual can be inferred from its bias in appraising neutral stimuli in its environment. Therefore, in the present study, in order to assess the emotional state of stereotyping individuals, 16 captive tufted capuchins (Cebus apella) were tested on a judgment bias paradigm and their faecal corticoid levels were measured in order to assess the intensity of the emotional state. Capuchins with higher levels of stereotypic head twirls exhibited a negative bias while judging ambiguous stimuli and had higher levels of faecal corticoids compared to subjects with lower levels of head twirls. Levels of stereotypic pacing, however, were not correlated with the monkeys’ emotional state. This study is the first to reveal a positive correlation between levels of stereotypic behaviour and a ‘pessimistic’-like judgment bias in a non-human primate by employing a recently developed cognitive approach. Combining cognitive tests that evaluate the animals’ affective valence (positive or negative) with hormonal measurements that provide information on the strength of the emotional state conduces to a better understanding of the animals’ affective state and therefore to their well-being.