Behaviour 2019
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Do Barbary macaques avoid negative social information as they age?
Eva-Maria Rathke, Julia Fischer. German Primate Center, Göttingen, , Germany

Socioemotional selectivity theory (SST) states that the awareness of a limited lifetime enhances the focus on positive social relationships. According to this theory, older adults show a shift in their attention towards positive stimuli, while younger adults show a negativity bias. We aimed to investigate how social attention changes with age in absence of the awareness of a limited lifetime in a nonhuman primate species. We presented Barbary macaques (N=47, 1 to 30 years old) with pictures of negative (open mouth threat) and neutral facial expressions of unfamiliar conspecifics. We expected an age-related decrease in looking time towards the negative picture. Preliminary analyses suggest that Barbary macaques did not show an age-related difference in their looking time, suggesting that the monkeys do not reveal negativity avoidance with increasing age. Notably, this result differs from a study on rhesus macaques demonstrating that older monkeys were more attentive to negative pictures compared to neutral ones. Thus, results for both monkey species did not conform to predictions from SST. We will discuss our findings with regard to species-specific differences in social styles.