Individual differences in coping styles and associations with social structure in wild baboons (Papio anubis)

Alexander J. Pritchard, Alecia J. Carter, Ryne A. Palombit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The patterning of interactions between individuals over time form the foundation for relationships, which are the basis for social group structure. The emergent social structure scaling from interactions might, therefore, be influenced by individual differences in how individuals respond to stressors and uncertainty, which are often intrinsic aspects of social dynamics. During a 17-month study of wild olive baboons, Papio anubis, in Laikipia, Kenya, we measured individual differences in coping style and stress reactivity by experimentally presenting a stressor with multiple solutions. We measured individual differences in sociality through focal animal and ad libitum sampling that recorded grooming, aggression, proximity, and social displacements. We examined whether experimental measures of coping style and stress reactivity (1) are linked to social network assortativity, (2) predict network position and (3) covary with social dominance rank. Homophily was observed for coping styles in a strong proximity network but not when weak associations were included in the analysis. Coping style scores did not predict social network strength or degree. Partner stability indices of proximity associations and social dominance rank did not covary with coping style measures. Static summative network structures may obfuscate investigative inquiries into the role of individual differences and, also, social structure may constrain or facilitate the behavioural expression of such differences. Thus, we should prioritize more fine-grain investigative approaches inclusive of variation in situation, context and consistency of group structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-72
Number of pages14
JournalAnimal Behaviour
StatePublished - Apr 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


  • baboon
  • coping style
  • field experiment
  • individual difference
  • personality
  • primate
  • social dominance
  • social network analysis
  • social responsiveness
  • stress reactivity


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