Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Heidi Lyn

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Alen Hajnal

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 4

Katherine Smith

Committee Member 4 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


Social behaviors are a necessary component of group living and interactions between organisms. To correctly assess social interactions, researchers must be able to observe behaviors and interpret their function based on the behavior or the behavioral context. In primate species, grooming is often used to assess affiliations between group members and the consensus has been to always interpret grooming as an affiliative behavior. However, a number of avian, rodent and feline species have been shown to groom conspecifics aggressively. These instances of aggressive grooming appear most often when individuals are required to maintain close proximity to one another, such as in captivity. Rodents and felines share characteristics with Garnett’s bushbaby (Otolemur garnettii). They are nocturnal, have a strong olfactory sense, and are semi-social. Additionally, Edens (2013), found a significant correlation between displacements and grooming when female O. garnettii were socially housed. If aggressive grooming were found in a primate species, researchers might need to re-assess their current model of behavioral interpretation for social interaction.