Social separation in monkeys

Susan Mineka*, Stephen J. Suomi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


Reviews phenomena associated with social separation from attachment objects in nonhuman primates. A biphasic protest-despair reaction to social separation is often seen in monkeys, as in human children. However, upon reunion there is generally a temporary increase in attachment behaviors rather than a temporary phase of detachment, as has been reported in the human literature. Gross factors such as age and sex do not appear to influence the responses to separation or reunion substantially. Rather, behavioral repertoires prior to separation and the nature of the separation and reunion environments appear to be more important determinants of the severity of separation reactions. These findings are consistent with the human literature. Possible long-term consequences of early separations are also discussed. Four theoretical treatments of separation phenomena are presented and evaluated: J. Bowlby's attachment-object-loss theory, I. C. Kaufman's conservation-withdrawal theory, M. E. P. Seligman's learned helplessness theory, and R. L. Solomon and J. D. Corbit's opponent-process theory. (95 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1376-1400
Number of pages25
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 1978


  • social separation from attachment objects in monkeys, comparison with human literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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