Individual differences in the responses of naïve rhesus monkeys to snakes

Emotion. 2003 Mar;3(1):3-11. doi: 10.1037/1528-3542.3.1.3.


The authors demonstrated individual differences in inhibited behavior and withdrawal responses of laboratory-born rhesus monkeys when initially exposed to a snake. Most monkeys displayed a small significant increase in their behavioral inhibition in the presence of a snake. A few monkeys had marked responses, and some actively withdrew. Although the responses of the most extreme laboratory-born monkeys were comparable to feral-born monkeys, the responses of the laboratory-born monkeys rapidly habituated. The individual differences in the responses of naïve monkeys likely reflect a continuum from orienting to wariness to fear. A neurobiological model is presented that addresses potential mechanisms underlying these individual differences, their relation to fear, and how they may predispose to phobia development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arousal*
  • Attention
  • Escape Reaction
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Individuality*
  • Macaca mulatta / psychology*
  • Male
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology
  • Snakes*