Description: Self injurious behavior (SIB), such as self-biting and head-banging, has been reported to occur in approximately 10% of captive, individually housed primates (Novak, Kinsely, Jorgensen, and Hazen, 1998). Accounts of the causes of SIB range from environmental to physiological. However, to date, no researchers have investigated the possible influence of social consequences, delivered by handlers and keepers, in the maintenance of SIB. There is only one research report showing that self-injury can be shaped in primates by the manipulation of food as a reinforcing consequence for the animal's behavior. The current study investigated the effects of social contact as potentially reinforcing consequences for the SIB displayed by an olive baboon (Papio hamadryas anubis). Results indicated that the behavior was maintained by attention from humans. As treatment, reinforcement was arranged for an appropriate alternative attention-getting behavior, resulting in increases in the appropriate alternative behavior and decreases in SIB.
Date: August 2004
Creator: Dorey, Nicole R.