Emory Report

April 12, 1999

 Volume 51, No. 27

Gordon to lecture on human, ape behavior

Sexual behavior, aggression, stress within social groups. Are these the qualities that make humans special? The answer to this and other important behavioral questions lies in the scientific research of monkeys and apes.

In his Great Teachers lecture on April 15, Thomas Gordon, associate director of scientific programs and chief of the Division of Psychobiology at the Yerkes Center, will present specific observations regarding sexual behavior, aggression and social stress in the context of both human and nonhuman social groups. The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Cannon Chapel and is free and open to the public.

"The scientific study of behavior in monkeys and apes has provided an understanding of basic principles governing all social behavior, including that of humans," Gordon said.

Gordon also will offer a personal reflection on the insights gleaned from years of studying nonhuman primates and share his thoughts on just what qualities are unique to humans. His talk also will include the social attributes common to all primates and discuss the relevance of his research to our understanding of human social behavior.

Since 1970 he has been a faculty member at Yerkes, where his research has focused on the social behavior of nonhuman primates living in groups. His work primarily takes place at the center's field station, which houses some 1,800 monkeys and apes.

Gordon's scientific studies have included examination of the relationship among social, environmental and biological variables in influencing reproductive and aggressive behavior, and assessment of the consequences of psychosocial stress on both social behavior and immune function. His research has resulted in some 100 published scientific papers.

--Michael Driscoll

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