Claire F. I. Watson

(former CICASP Research Associate)


  • Social and communicative traditions in non-human primates
  • Empirical investigation of social influence on social behaviours in monkeys
  • Welfare in captive marmosets
  • Common marmoset vocalisations

Social Behaviour

Understanding cultural variation and transmission in other primates can offer insight into the evolutionary origins of human culture. Many apparent traditions reported in wild primate populations involve social and communicative traditions, but these variants have been under-investigated in empirical work, relative to food and foraging oriented behaviours. My research focuses on investigating the socially mediated spread of social and communicative behaviours in captive primates to better understand the underlying processes of cultural transmission in wild primate populations.

During my PhD work I investigated social influence on social behaviours in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). An observational study indicated that affiliative calls made in neighbouring groups influence marmosets to perform a range of amicable behaviours. The next question was whether this effect could be manipulated to facilitate a change in patterns of behaviour. I found that playback of several hours daily of pre-recorded conspecific affiliative calls resulted in an increase across several amicable behaviours, consistent with a shift in overall social style.

My current research plans involve empirical investigation of the spread of social and communicative traditions in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata).

Primate Welfare

The welfare of primates in captivity is another major interest. The auditory and visual playback of affiliative behaviour to monkeys, in my previous research, has potential practical application to welfare through non-contact social enrichment. In a recent project I collaborated in the creation of a website aimed at promoting the welfare of common marmosets in captivity


  • BSc. Hons in Biological Sciences: Psychology, University of Edinburgh (2002)
  • PhD in Psychology, University of Stirling (2011). Dissertation Title: ‘Social contagion in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus): Implications for cognition, culture and welfare.’

I carried out my PhD supervised by Dr. Christine Caldwell, at the University of Stirling, investigating social influence on social behaviours in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). Having completed my thesis, I remained in the department to collaborate with Professor Hannah M. Buchanan-Smith in the creation and publicity of an open-access resource,, providing detailed information on common marmoset behaviour and welfare in captivity. I will soon move to Japan to accept the position of Research Associate at CICASP.

Selected Publications


Claire F. I. Watson, Ph. D.
Center for International Collaboration and Advanced Studies in Primatology
Kyoto University Primate Research Institute
41-2 Kanrin, Inuyama, Aichi, Japan 484-8506

Fax: +81 (0)568-61-1050