The development of infant-caregiver relationships in the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus)

Locke-Haydon, Janet (1983). The development of infant-caregiver relationships in the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). PhD thesis The Open University.



The thesis describes a study of infant social development
carried out on captive common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) over the first five months of life while maintained in family groups.

From observations of nine infants from 2 to 22 weeks of age, a detailed quantitative account of the relationships between infants and their caregivers (other family members) has been produced. The amount of time infants spend in different activities with different caregivers varies with the age of the infant and with which caregiver is concerned as infants develop quantitatively and qualitatively different relationships with each type of caregiver. Independence of infants from caregivers is promoted primarily by the caregivers, infants appearing to seek more care than caregivers are prepared to give. Caregivers do not compensate for differences in each others' caregiving behaviour, nor do they compete for access to infants.

From the results of these observations, the distribution of
infants' time and activities among family members is suggested to result from the interaction of two factors: the tendency of an infant at a given age to seek a certain level of care, and the tendencies of family members to offer a certain level of care. This caregiving/care-seeking hypothesis generates several predictions which have been tested by experimentally manipulating the behaviour of particular caregivers using a neuroleptic drug to reduce care offered to and social interactions with infants.

Observations of the experimental second group of eight infants have borne out several of the predictions from the hypothesis: Infants whose caregivers are drugged spend less time in non - care-seeking activities and there are some increases in care-seeking behaviour. Infants continue to seek care from caregivers in order of preference, and no compensation among caregivers is found.

Results from the second group of infants provide support for
the caregiving/care-seeking hypothesis but also indicate other factors which need to be taken into account.

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