Book Chapter

Habituating primates: Processes, techniques, variables and ethics (2nd Edition)



Williamson EA & Feistner A (2011) Habituating primates: Processes, techniques, variables and ethics (2nd Edition). In: Setchell J & Curtis D (eds.) Field and Laboratory Methods in Primatology: A Practical Guide. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 33-50.

Introduction 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 primates and humans can lead to a reduction in fear, and ultimately to the ignoring of an observer. Historically, the techniques and processes involved were rarely described, as habituation was generally viewed as a means to an end (Tutin & Fernandez, 1991). 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 about the habituation process as possible. However, most recent studies that have quantified primate behaviour in relation to habituators have focussed on great apes (see, for example, Ando et al., 2008; Bertolani & Boesch, 2008; Blom et al., 2004; Cipolletta, 2003; Doran-Sheehy et al., 2007; Sommer et al., 2004; Werdenich et al., 2003), with little information available for other primate taxa (but see Jack et al., 2008).

great ape; gorilla; chimpanzee; monkey; Social behavior in animals; Primates Behavior

Publication date28/02/2011
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publisher URL…bn=9780521194099
Place of publicationCambridge

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Professor Liz Williamson

Professor Liz Williamson

Honorary Professor, Psychology