The aim of this study was to assess the validity of the notion that anxiety influences maternal style in monkeys. To this end, we investigated the correlations between measures of the quality of mother-infant relationship and scratching, a behavior pattern that reflects a state of anxiety. The subjects were seven group-living macaque mothers and their infants observed during the first 12 weeks postpartum. Postpartum scratching by the mothers was positively correlated with both maternal possessiveness and maternal warmth, two composite measures of the quality of mother-infant relationship that reflect a possessive and attentive maternal style. Evaluation of the correlations between maternal rank and scratching before and after parturition indicated that interactions with their infants, not those with other group companions, were the main source of anxiety for the mothers. These results support the notion that anxiety influences maternal style in monkeys and suggest that studies aimed at investigating physiological and social correlates of maternal emotionality in nonhuman primates could use scratching as a useful and simple behavioral measure.
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