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Dev Psychobiol. 1989 Nov;22(7):669-81.

Early experience and cross-generational continuity of mother-infant contact in vervet monkeys.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.


This report presents evidence that suggests that spontaneously-occurring variation in early mother-infant experience within the normal range can influence primate mothering behavior in the next generation. Longitudinal observations of vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus) living in naturally composed captive social groups demonstrated that the average amount of contact that mothers maintained with their infants in the first six months of life could be predicted by the amount of mother-infant contact the females had experienced as infants. A female's early experience in infancy was a better predictor of adult mothering behavior than variables measuring social learning as a juvenile, shared circumstances, and average similarity between mothers and daughters.

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