Seeing two faces together: preference formation in humans and rhesus macaques
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Humans, great apes and old world monkeys show selective attention to faces depending on conspecificity, familiarity, and social status supporting the view that primates share similar face processing mechanisms. Although many studies have been done on face scanning strategy in monkeys and humans, the mechanisms influencing viewing preference have received little attention. To determine how face categories influence viewing preference in humans and rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), we performed two eye-tracking experiments using a visual preference task whereby pairs of faces from different species were presented simultaneously. The results indicated that viewing time was significantly influenced by the pairing of the face categories. Humans showed a strong bias towards an own-race face in an Asian–Caucasian condition. Rhesus macaques directed more attention towards non-human primate faces when they were paired with human faces, regardless of the species. When rhesus faces were paired with faces from Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) or chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), the novel species’ faces attracted more attention. These results indicate that monkeys’ viewing preferences, as assessed by a visual preference task, are modulated by several factors, species and dominance being the most influential.
KeywordsHumans Rhesus macaques Preferences Faces Eye-tracking
We thank two anonymous reviewers for their fruitful comments on an early version of the manuscript. This research was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China Grant 31125014, Open Research Fund of the State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning (China) and by a grant from the National Institutes of Health Grant R01 HD046526 (to O. P.).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
In accordance with French standards for behavioral studies, the experiment was approved by the local ethics committee of the Psychology and NeuroCognition Lab (human participants). The animal experiments were conducted at Beijing Normal University, with all procedures in compliance with the US National Institutes of Health Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Beijing Normal University.
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