Behavioral Management as a Coping Strategy for Managing Stressors in Primates: The Influence of Temperament and Species

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2 Scopus citations


Primates involved in biomedical research experience stressors related to captivity, close contact with caregivers, and may be exposed to various medical procedures while modeling clinical disease or interventions under study. Behavioral management is used to promote behavioral flexibility in less complex captive environments and train coping skills to reduce stress. How animals perceive their environment and interactions is the basis of subjective experience and has a major impact on welfare. Certain traits, such as temperament and species, can affect behavioral plasticity and learning. This study investigated the relationship between these traits and acquisition of coping skills in 83 macaques trained for cooperation with potentially aversive medical procedures using a mixed-reinforcement training paradigm. All primates successfully completed training with no significant differences between inhibited and exploratory animals, suggesting that while temperament profoundly influences behavior, training serves as an important equalizer. Species-specific differences in learning and motivation manifested in statistically significant faster skill acquisition in rhesus compared with cynomolgus macaques, but this difference was not clinically relevant. Despite unique traits, primates were equally successful in learning complex tasks and displayed effective coping. When animals engage in coping behaviors, their distress decreases, improving welfare and reducing inter-and intra-subject variability to enhance scientific validity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number423
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health Grant/Award Numbers: U19AI067151, U01AI12013050, R42DK109853, U01AI102463, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Grant/Award Number: 3-SRA-2016-259, 3-SRA-2015-39-Q-R, 2-SRA-2016-260-S-B, the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute-Adjacent Possible Grants and AHC FRD grant program #15.04, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation individual philanthropy through the University of Minnesota Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Behavior
  • Coping
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Temperament
  • Training
  • Welfare

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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