Book Chapter

Habituating primates: Processes, techniques, variables and ethics



Williamson EA & Feistner A (2003) Habituating primates: Processes, techniques, variables and ethics. In: Setchell JM & Curtis DJ (eds.) Field and Laboratory Methods in Primatology: A Practical Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 25-39.

First paragraph: Field biologists adopted the term habituation from physiology, as the relatively persistent waning of a response as a result of repeated stimulation that is not followed by any kind of reinforcement (Thorpe, 1963). Repeated neutral contacts between non-human primates (hereafter called primates in this chapter) and humans can lead to a reduction in fear, and ultimately to the ignoring of an observer. The techniques and processes involved have only rarely been described (e.g. Schaller, 1963; Kummer, 1995), as habituation has generally been viewed as a means to an end (Tutin & Fernandez, 1991). The few studies that have quantified primate behaviour in relation to habituators describe the process with African great apes (Grieser Johns, 1996; van Krunkelsven et al., 1999; Blom et al., 2001). As we become increasingly aware of the potential effects of observer presence on primate behaviour, and especially the potential risks of close proximity with humans, it behoves us to measure as much as possible about the habituation process.

; Animal behavior Research; Human-animal relationships; Primates

Publication date31/12/2003
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publisher URL…bn=9780521526289
Place of publicationCambridge

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Professor Liz Williamson

Professor Liz Williamson

Honorary Professor, Psychology