You are here: Home Publications Early social deprivation negatively affects social skill acquisition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Early social deprivation negatively affects social skill acquisition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Van Leeuwen, E. J. C., Chitalu Mulenga, I., & Lisensky Chidester, D. (2014). Early social deprivation negatively affects social skill acquisition in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Animal Cognition, 17(2), 407-414. doi:10.1007/s10071-013-0672-5.
In a highly social species like chimpanzees, the process by which individuals become attuned to their social environment may be of vital importance to their chances of survival. Typically, this socializing process, defined by all acquisition experiences and fine-tuning efforts of social interaction patterns during ontogeny, occurs in large part through parental investment. In this study, we investigated whether maternal presence would enhance the socializing process in chimpanzees by comparing the social interactions of orphaned and mother-reared individuals at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust in Zambia. As response variables, we selected social interactions during which an elaborate level of fine-tuning is assumed to be necessary for sustaining the interaction and preventing escalation: social play. Comparing orphaned (n=8) to sex- and age-matched mother-reared juvenile chimpanzees (n=9), we hypothesized that the orphaned juveniles would play less frequently than the mother-reared and would be less equipped for fine-tuning social play (which we assayed by rates of aggression) because of the lack of a safe and facilitating social environment provided by the mother. First, contrary to our hypothesis, results showed that the orphaned juveniles engaged in social play more frequently than the mother-reared juveniles, although for significantly shorter amounts of time. Second, in support of our hypothesis, results showed that social play of the orphaned juveniles more often resulted in aggression than social play of the mother-reared juveniles. In conjunction, these results may indicate that, just like in humans, chimpanzee mothers provide their offspring with adequate social skills that might be of pivotal importance for future challenges like successful group-living and securing competitive fitness advantages.
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.

 

Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands


Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213
E-mail:   


Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn