Behavioral responsiveness of young chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) to a novel environment

L. C. Miller*, K. A. Bard, C. J. Juno, R. D. Nadler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Behavioral responsiveness to a novel environment was documented in 22 chimpanzees grouped according to age; 6-months, 1-year, 2-years and 5-years. An attachment figure, a human caretaker, accompanied each subject during the 15-min test sessions so as to preclude confounding of responses to novelty with separation responses. Extreme distress reported previously for chimpanzees and human children when tested alone in a novel situation was rarely observed in these tests when an attachment figure was present. Stereotyped rocking, an indication of mild distress occurred more frequently in the younger animals. Younger animals engaged in distal visual exploration of the environment while remaining close to the attachment figure, whereas the older animals locomoted more frequently and explored the environment directly with their hands. Repeated exposure to the environment reduced the differences among the 6-month, 1-year and 2-year groups. The 6-month group, however, continued to locomote least and least frequently engaged in tactile exploration. These data on chimpanzees resemble data on human children which suggest that an attachment figure: attenuates the distress exhibited by young individuals of these species when exposed to novel stimuli, and thereby provides a secure base which supports the exploration of novel stimuli, a prerequisite to behavioral adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-142
Number of pages15
JournalFolia primatologica; international journal of primatology
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1986


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