Current Psychological Reviews

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 139–158 | Cite as

Self-aggressive behaviour in monkeys

  • James R. Anderson
  • Arnold S. Chamove


Self-aggression (SA) in nonhuman primates is a deviant form of aggression which involves threats and physical attacks directed towards the self. SA sometimes causes tissue damage, but usually the skin is not broken. The behaviour is most often reported in some Old World monkeys that have been reared under conditions of social deprivation, and rarely occurs in the wild. It may also appear in normal animals under very stressful conditions. Like social aggression, SA is more prominent in males; it increases with the onset of puberty, and may decline in later adulthood. In addition, like social aggression, SA may increase in response to pain, frustration, fear, or sexual arousal. It is hypothesized that SA develops in socially restricted infant monkeys due to potent ‘sign stimuli’, provided by the animal’s own body combining with the infant’s general reliance on the self, which has derived from other self-directed behaviours, such as sucking, clasping, and playfighting. SA may persist after social housing because animals learn that there are fewer social, physical and energetic costs involved in using the self, rather than another group member, as an outlet for aggression. Species that rely less on redirection in aggressive contexts, and/or possess self-awareness, appear less susceptible to SA of this type.


Rhesus Monkey Nonhuman Primate Sexual Arousal Squirrel Monkey Social Deprivation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allyn, G., Deyme, A. and Bègue, I. (1976). Self-fighting syndrome in macaques: 1. A representative case study. Primates, 17, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, J. R. and Chamove, A. S. (1980). Self-aggression and social aggression in laboratory-reared macaques. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89, 539–550.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Azrin, N. H., Hutchinson, R. R. and McLaughlin, R. (1965). The opportunity for aggression as an operant reinforcer during aversive stimulation. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 8, 171–180.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baenninger, R. (1974). Some consequences of aggressive behavior. A selective review of the literature on other animals. Aggressive Behavior, 1, 17–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baysinger, C. M., Brandt, E. M. and Mitchell, G. (1972). Development of infant social isolate monkeys (Macaca mulatta) in their isolation environments. Primates, 13, 257–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berkson, G. (1968). Development of abnormal stereotyped behaviors. Development Psychobiology, 1, 118–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berkson, G., Goodrich, J. and Kraft, I. (1966). Abnormal stereotyped movements of marmosets. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 23, 491–498.Google Scholar
  8. Bernstein, I. S. and Sharpe, L. G. (1966). Social roles in a rhesus monkey group. Behaviour, 26, 91–104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bertrand, M. (1969). The Behavioral Repertoire of the Stumptail Macaque. Basel: S. Karger.Google Scholar
  10. Bowden, D. (1966). Primate behavioral research in the USSR. The Sukhumi Medico-Biological Station. Folia Primatologics, 4, 346–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Butler, R. A. (1961). The responsiveness of rhesus monkeys to motion pictures. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 98, 239–245.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Carr, E. G. (1977). The motivation of self-injurious behavior. A review of some hypotheses. Psychological Bulletin, 84, 800–816.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chamove, A. S. (1978a). Deprivation of vision in social interaction in monkeys. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 72, 103.Google Scholar
  14. Chamove, A. S. (1978b). Therapy of isolate rhesus: Different partners and social behavior. Child Development, 49, 43–50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chamove, A. S. (1980). Nongenetic induction of acquired levels of aggression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89, 469–488.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chamove, A.S. and Anderson, J.R. (In press). Self-aggression, stereotypy, and self- injurious behaviour in man and monkeys. Current Psychological Reviews.Google Scholar
  17. Chamove, A. S. and Bowman, R. E. (1978). Rhesus plasma cortisol response at four dominance positions. Aggressive Behavior, 4, 43–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chamove, A. S. and Harlow, H. F. (1970). Exaggeration of self-aggression following alcohol ingestion in rhesus monkeys. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 75, 207–209.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chamove, A. S. and Harlow, H. F. (1975). Cross-species affinity in three macaques. Journal of Behavioural Science, 2, 131–136.Google Scholar
  20. Chamove, A. S., Cameron, G. and Nash, V. J. (1979). Primate disease and breeding rates. Laboratory Animals, 13, 313–316.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cross, H. A. and Harlow, H. F. (1965). Prolonged and progressive effects of partial isolation on the behavior of macaque monkeys. Journal of Experimental Research in Personality, 1, 39–49.Google Scholar
  22. Davenport, R. K. (1979). Some behavioral disturbances of great apes in captivity. In D. A. Hamburg and E. R. McCown (eds.), The Great Apes. Menlo Park: Benjamin/Cummings.Google Scholar
  23. Davenport, R. K. and Rogers, C. M. (1970). Differential rearing of the chimpanzee: A project survey. In G. H. Bourne (ed.), The Chimpanzee, Vol. 3. Basel: Karger.Google Scholar
  24. de Catanzaro, D. A. (1978). Self-injurious behavior. A biological analysis. Motivation and Emotion, 2, 46–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Deets, A. C., Harlow, H. F., Singh, S. D. and Blomquist, A. J. (1970). Effects of bilateral lesions of the frontal granular cortex on the social behavior of rhesus monkeys. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 72, 452–461.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Delgado, J. M. R. (1963). Cerebral heterostimulation in a monkey colony. Science, 141, 161–163.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dixson, A. F. (1980). Androgens and aggressive behavior in primates: A review. Aggressive Behavior, 6, 37–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dollard, J., Doob, L. W., Miller, N. E., Mowrer, O. H. and Sears, R. R. (1939). Frustration and Aggression. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Elton, R. H. (1979). Baboon behavior under crowded conditions. In J. Erwin, R. L. Maple and G. Mitchell (eds.), Captivity and Behavior. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  30. Erwin, J., Mitchell, G. and Maple, T. (1973). Abnormal behavior in non-isolate- reared rhesus monkeys. Psychological Reports, 33, 515–523.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Facheux, B., Bourliere, F. and Lemaire, C. (1976). Decreased adrenal reactivity in partially-isolated auto-aggressive macaques. Biology of Behaviour, 1, 329–338.Google Scholar
  32. Finch, G. (1942). Chimpanzee frustration responses. Psychosomatic Medicine, 4, 233–251.Google Scholar
  33. Fittinghoff, N. A. Jr., Lindburg, D. A., Gomber, J. and Mitchell, G. (1974). Consistency and variability in the behavior of mature, isolation-reared, male rhesus macaques. Primates, 15, 111–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Fitz-Gerald, F. L. (1964). The Effects of Drugs upon Stereotyped Behavior in Young Chimpanzees. Ph.D. Thesis, McGill University.Google Scholar
  35. Galat Luong, A. and Galat, G. (1979). Consequences comportementales de perturbations sociales repetees sur une troupe de mones de Lowe Cercopithecus campbellie lowei de Cote-d’ivoire. La Terre et la Vie, 33, 49–58.Google Scholar
  36. Gallup, G. G. Jr., (1979). Self-avareness in primates. American Scientist, 67, 417–421.Google Scholar
  37. Gallup, G. G. Jr., McClure, M.K., Hill, S. D. and Bundy, R. A. (1971). Capacity for self-recognition in differentially reared chimpanzees. Psychological Record, 21, 69–74.Google Scholar
  38. Gluck, J. P. and Sackett, G. P. (1974). Frustration and self-aggression in social isolate rhesus monkeys. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 83, 331–334.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Goosen, C. and Ribbens, L. (1973). Self-fighting in female stumptailed macaques. Rep. Annual Report, TNO, 216–217.Google Scholar
  40. Goosen, C. and Ribbens, L. G. (1980). Autoaggression and tactile communication in pairs of adult stumptailed macaques. Behaviour, 73, 155–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hall, K. R. L. (1964). Aggression in monkey and ape societies. In J. D. Carthy and F. J. Ebling (eds.), The Natural History of Aggression. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  42. Hall, K. R. L. and DeVore, I. (1965). Baboon social behavior. In I. DeVore (ed.), Primate Behavior. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  43. Hamburg, D. A. and van Lawick-Goodall, J. (1974). Factors facilitating development of aggressive behavior in chimpanzees and humans. In J. de Wit and W.W. Hartup (eds.), Determinants and Origins of Aggressive Behavior. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  44. Harlow, H. F. (1971). Learning to Love. San Francisco: Albion.Google Scholar
  45. Harlow, H. F. and Harlow, M. K. (1962). Social deprivation in monkeys. Scientific American, 207, 136–146.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Harlow, H. F. and Harlow, M. K. (1965). The affectional systems. In A. M. Schrier, H. F. Harlow and F. Stollnitz (eds.), Behavior of Nonhuman Primates. Vol. 2. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  47. Harlow, H. F. and Harlow, M. K. (1971). Psychopathology in monkeys. In H. D. Kimmel (ed.), Experimental Psychopathology: Recent Research and Theory. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  48. Harlow, H. F. and Zimmermann, R. R. (1959). Affectional responses in the infant monkey. Science, 130, 421–432.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Hogan, J. A. and Roper, T. J. (1978). A comparison of the properties of different reinforcers. Advances in the Study of Behaviour, 8, 155–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Holloway, R. L. (ed.) (1974). Primate Aggression, Territoriality, and Xenophobia: A Comparative Perspective. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  51. Jones, I. H. and Barraclough, B. M. (1978). Auto-mutilation in animals and its relevance to self-injury in man. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 58, 40–47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Jones, I.H., Congiu, L., Stevenson, J., Strauss, N. and Frei, D. Z. (1979). A biological approach to two forms of human self-injury. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 167, 74–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Kaplan, J. (1977). Some behavioral observations of surrogate- and mother-reared squirrel monkeys. In S. Chevalier-Skolnikoff and F.E. Poirier (eds.), Primate Bio-Social Development. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.Google Scholar
  54. Leonard, J.W. (1980). Personality, Dominance Experience, and the Development of Social Behavior in Laboratory Stumptail Macaques (Macaca arctoides). Ph.D. Thesis, University of Stirling.Google Scholar
  55. Lethmate, J. and Dücker, G. (1973). Unstersuchungen zum Selbsterkennen im Spiegel bei Orang-Utans und einigen anderen Affenarten. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 33, 248–269.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Levine, M. D., Gordon, T. P., Petersen, R. H. and Rose, R. M. (1970). Urinary 17-OHCS response of high- and low-aggressive rhesus monkeys to shock avoidance. Physiology and Behavior, 5, 919–924.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Maple, T., (1977). Unusual sexual behavior of nonhuman primates. In J. Money and H. Musaph (eds.), Handbook of Sexology. New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  58. Maple, T., Erwin, J. and Mitchell, G. (1974). Sexually aroused self-aggression in a socialized, adult male monkey. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 3, 471–475.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Marier, P. (1976). On animal aggression: The roles of strangeness and familiarity. American Psychologist, 31, 239–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Mason, W. A. (1965). Determinants of social behavior in young chimpanzees. In A. M. Schrier, H. F. Harlow and F. Stollnitz (eds.), Behavior of Nonhuman Primates. Vol. 2. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  61. Mason, W. A. (1968). Early social deprivation in the nonhuman primate: Implications for human behavior. In D. C. Glass (ed.), Biology and Behavior: Environmental Influences. New York: Rockefeller University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Mason, W. A. (1973). Regulatory functions of arousal in primate psychosocial development. In C.R. Carpenter (ed.), Behavioral Regulators of Behavior in Primates. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Mason, W. A. and Sponholz, R. R. (1963). Behavior of rhesus monkeys raised in isolation. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 1, 299–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Mason, W. A., Davenport, R. K. and Menzel, E. W. (1968). Early experiences and the social development of rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees. In G. Newton and S. Levine (eds.), Early Experience and Behavior. Springfield: C. C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  65. Maxim, P. E. (1980). Rewarding brain stimulation and the peer-infant separation syndrome. Physiology and Behavior, 25, 53–61.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Missakian, E. A. (1969). Reproductive behavior of socially deprived male rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 69, 403–407.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Mitchell, G. (1970). Abnormal behavior in primates. In L. A. Rosenblum (ed.), Primate Behavior. Vol. 1. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  68. Mitchell, G. (1979). Behavioral Sex Differences in Nonhuman Primates. San Francisco: van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  69. Mitchell, G., Maple, T. L. and Erwin, J. (1979). Development of social attachment potential in captive rhesus monkeys. In J. Erwin, T. L. Maple and G. Mitchell (eds.), Captivity and Behavior. New York: van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  70. Moyer, K. E. (1976). The Psychobiology of Aggression. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  71. Nagel, U. and Kummer, H. (1974). Variation in cercopithecoid aggressive behavior. In R. L. Holloway (ed.), Primate Aggression, Territoriality, and Xenophobia: A Comparative Perspective. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  72. Niemeyer, C. (1980). Interference in Matings in the Stumptailed Macaque (Macaca arctoides). M.Sc. Thesis, University of Stirling.Google Scholar
  73. Potegal, M. (1979). The reinforcing value of several types of aggressive behavior: A review. Aggressive Behavior, 5, 353–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Riesen, A. H., Dickerson, G. P. and Struble, R. G. (1977). Somatosensory restriction and behavioral development in stumptail monkeys. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 290, 285–294.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Rowell, T. (1972). Social Behaviour of Monkeys. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  76. Ruppenthal, G. C. and Sackett, G. P. (1979). Experimental and husbandry procedures: Their impact on development. In G. C. Ruppenthal and D. J. Reese (eds.), Nursery Care of Nonhuman Primates. New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  77. Sackett, G. P. (1968). Abnormal behavior in laboratory-reared rhesus monkeys. In M. W. Fox (ed.), Abnormal Behavior in Animals. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.Google Scholar
  78. Sackett, G. P. (1970). Unlearned responses, differential rearing experiences, and the development of social attachments by rhesus monkeys. In L. A. Rosenblum (ed.), Primate Behavior. Vol. 1. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  79. Sackett, G. P. (1973). Innate mechanisms in primate social behavior. In C. R. Carpenter (ed.), Behavioral Regulators of Behavior in Primates. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Sackett, G. P. (1974). Sex differences in rhesus monkeys following varied learning experiences. In R. C. Friedman, R. M. Richert and R. I. Vande Wiele(eds.), Sex Differences in Behavior. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  81. Sackett, G. P., Bowman, R. E., Meyer, J. S., Tripp, R. L. and Grady, S. S. (1973). Adrenocortical and behavioral reactions by differentially raised rhesus monkeys. Physiological Psychology, 1, 209–212.Google Scholar
  82. Suomi, S. J. and Harlow, H. F. (1975). The role and reason of peer relationships in rhesus monkeys. In M. Lewis and L. A. Rosenblum (eds.), Friendship and Peer Relations. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  83. Suomi, S. J., Harlow, H. F. and Kimball, S. D. (1971). Behavioral effects of prolonged partial social isolation in the rhesus monkey. Psychological Reports, 29, 1171–1177.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  84. Symons, D. (1978). Play and Aggression: A Study of Rhesus Monkeys. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  85. Testa, T. J. and Mack, D. (1977). The effects of social isolation on sexual behavior in Macaca fascicularis. In S. Chevalier-Skolnikoff and F. E. Poirier (eds.), Primate Bio-Social Development. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.Google Scholar
  86. Tinklepaugh, O. L. (1928). The self-mutilation of a male macacus rhesus monkey. Journal of Mammology, 9, 293–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Ulrich, R., Wolfe, M. and Dulaney, S. (1969). Punishment of shock induced aggression. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 12, 1009–1015.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Zuckerman, S. (1932). The Social Life of Monkeys and Apes. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co.Google Scholar
  89. Zumpe, D. and Michael, R. P. (1970). Redirected aggression and gonadal hormones in captive rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Animal Behaviour, 18, 11–19.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Zumpe, D. and Michael, R. P. (1978). Interrelations between aggression and sexuality in rhesus monkeys: Relevance of the primate model. In L. Levi (ed.), Society, Stress and Disease, Vol. 3: The Productive and Reproductive Age. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  91. Zumpe, D. and Michael, R. P. (1979). Relation between the hormonal status of the female and direct and redirected aggression by male rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Hormones and Behavior, 12, 269–279.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • James R. Anderson
    • 1
  • Arnold S. Chamove
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology Primate UnitUniversity of StirlingStirling

Personalised recommendations