Status, age, and sex effects on performance of discrimination tasks in group-tested rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta).
To assess the relation between performance and social or demographic variables, this study group tested a captive monkey colony on visual and manual discrimination problems. Animals could choose between differently colored, sand-filled boxes, where hue signaled the initial probability of finding buried food items. Dominant animals and subadults were most successful in locating and retrieving incentives, but sex did not affect performance. Rank effects occurred without overt aggression, suggesting deference by subordinates as a mediating mechanism. Age effects may reflect changing attention patterns only evident in complex arenas where cue salience becomes diluted. Because these findings differ from studies of singly tested animals, they show that, in a social context, an individual's rank and age may define opportunities to gain or efficiently use information.
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