Age, hand preference and gender are shown to be associated with
exploration behaviour performed by Callithrix jaccfius, depending on the context in
which the marmosets are tested. When each marmoset was tested alone in a novel
environment, hand preference had a significant effect on exploration: right-handed
marmosets explored more actively than left-handed ones. This difference is probably
related to hemispheric specialisation for processing novel stimuli and controlling
emotional responses. Age and gender were found to have no significant effect on
exploration in this context. When the marmosets were tested in the social groups and by
placing novel objects in their home cages, both hand preference and age influenced
approach and interaction with the stimuli, but again gender had no significant effect.
Solving a novel problem in the home cage was influenced only by age, or related social
dominance, and not by gender or hand preference. The implications of these results to
behaviour of wild marmosets and other species are discussed.