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J Comp Psychol. 1999 Mar;113(1):59-65.

Heart rate responses to social interactions in free-moving rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta): a pilot study.

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Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Heart rate telemetry was explored as a means to access animal emotion during social interactions under naturalistic conditions. Heart rates of 2 middle-ranking adult females living in a large group of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) were recorded along with their behavior. Heart rate changes during 2 types of interactions were investigated, while controlling for the effects of posture and activity. The risk of aggression associated with the approach of a dominant individual was expected to provoke anxiety in the approachee. This prediction was supported by the heart rate increase after such an approach. No increase was found when the approacher was a kin or a subordinate individual. The tension-reduction function of allogrooming was also supported. Heart rate decelerated faster during the receipt of grooming than in matched control periods.

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