Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Mary Lee Jensvold

Second Committee Member

Lori K. Sheeran

Third Committee Member

Susan Lonborg


The present study compared the effects of positive reinforcement training (PRT) and unstructured interactions (UI) on chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) behavior. In the PRT condition, a caregiver interacted with a chimpanzee to condition behaviors for 10 min. In the UI condition, a caregiver interacted without PRT for 10 min. Participants were five chimpanzees in a sanctuary setting. Chimpanzees were also videotaped for 10 min after trials (PTP) and for 10 min in a matched control (MC) period on a different day. From these videotapes experimenters coded chimpanzee behaviors and calculated durations in behavioral contexts. Chimpanzees spent a significantly higher proportion of time in the Affinitive context during PRT and UI than during PTP and MC. Chimpanzees interacted with the caregiver equally often in both PRT and UI conditions. While PRT is useful in husbandry applications, the caregiver’s use of chimpanzee behaviors in UIs promotes well-being equally well.