Short- and long-term effects of repetitive mother-infant separations on social development in rhesus monkeys

Stephen J. Suomi*, Susan Mineka, Roberta D. DeLizio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Rhesus monkey mother-infant dyads were each subjected to 16 4-day physical separations between the infants' 3rd and 9th mo of life. Infants displayed protest behavior following each separation but only minimal signs of despair. Their protest diminished somewhat over repeated separations. The mothers' separation reactions were considerably milder (and changed little) over repeated separations. The separations appeared to retard the development of normal mother-infant relationsips: Relative to nonseparated control dyads, separated infants displayed excessive levels of infantile behaviors, although their mothers did not differ from control mothers in levels of any behavior. Near the end of their 1st yr, all infants were permanently separated from their mothers and housed as peer groups. Over the next 30 wks during peer housing, few behavioral differences emerged between previously separated and control Ss. However, when exposed to their mothers during preference tests, previously separated Ss seemed to avoid their mothers in sharp contrast to the mother-seeking activity displayed by control infants. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-786
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1983


  • 9th mo of life, social development, rhesus monkey infants
  • repetitive mother-infant separations between 3rd &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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