The social networks that rhesus monkeys develop in nature are centered around multiple generations of matrilineal kin embedded in larger social groupings that have some degree of distinctiveness and permanence. Within each family, infants initially grow up in the care of their mothers and the close presence of relatives, and they subsequently expand their social network to include peers and others in the larger community and beyond while continuing to retain strong family ties throughout adolescence (for males) and for the rest of their lives (for females). Rhesus monkey families differ in relative status within their community-like troops, and these differences can have long-term consequences for individuals within each family. Yet there is also evidence that changes in within-family relationships, particularly those between mothers and offspring, can eventually lead to changes in the basic nature of the troop itself. It seems appropriate to characterize the social relationships that emerge between rhesus monkey mothers and their offspring in attachment-like terms, especially given Bowlby’s reliance on observations of rhesus monkey mother-infant interactions to provide the biological basis of the attachment theory he was formulating in the late 1950s and 1960s. Contrastingly, it may be overly simplistic to describe the various other social relationships that rhesus monkeys routinely develop within their expanding social networks exclusively from an attachment perspective. Instead, these other social relationships clearly differ from their relationship with their mother with respect to the specific behaviors that characterize each type of relationship, the physical and social contexts in which the relationships are expressed, and the manner in which each relationship changes throughout development. Moreover, the different relationships each monkey develops as it matures appear to complement one another as it becomes integrated into its overall social network.

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