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Data from: Sensitivity to line-of sight in tolerant versus despotic macaques (Macaca sylvanus and Macaca mulatta)

Citation

Rosati, Alexandra; Bettle, Rosemary (2022), Data from: Sensitivity to line-of sight in tolerant versus despotic macaques (Macaca sylvanus and Macaca mulatta), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fj6q573x8

Abstract

Complex social life is considered important to the evolution of cognition in primates. One key aspect of primate social interactions concerns the degree of competition that individuals face in their social group. To examine how social tolerance versus competition shapes social cognition, we experimentally assessed capacities for flexible gaze-following in more tolerant Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) and compared to previous data from despotic rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Monkeys experienced one of two possible conditions. In the barrier condition, they observed an actor look upwards into an overheard barrier, so they could not directly see the target of the actor's gaze without reorienting. In the no barrier condition, they observed an actor look upwards without a barrier blocking her line-of-sight, so they could observe the target of the actor's gaze by also looking upwards. Both species (N = 58 Barbary macaques, 64 rhesus macaques) could flexibly modulate their gaze responses to account for the demonstrator’s line of sight, looking up more often when no barrier was present, and this flexible modulation declined with age in both species. However, neither species preferentially approached to look inside the barrier when their view of the target location was obscured, although rhesus macaques approached more overall. This pattern suggests that both tolerant and despotic macaques exhibit similar capacities to track other’s line of sight and do not preferentially reorient their bodies to observe what an actor looks at in this situation. This contrasts with other work indicating that competitive primates are especially adept at some aspects of theory of mind. Thus, it is important to understand both the similarities and differences in the social–cognitive abilities of primates with different social styles.

Methods

See manuscript for all methodological details regarding this dataset.

Usage Notes

The data file includes a key defining all variables.

Funding

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Award: FG- 2019-12054

National Science Foundation, Award: 1944881