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John Capitanio


  • Ph.D., Comparative Psychology, University of California, Davis
  • M.A., Comparative Psychology, University of California, Davis
  • B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst


John Capitanio is a research psychologist at the University of California, Davis, and a core scientist for the California National Primate Research Center, which is located at UC Davis. From 2002 to 2011, he served as the center’s associate director for research. During that time, he was also a professor of psychology at UC Davis. Capitanio is a member of a number of professional organizations and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. He was a recipient of the Patricia R. Barchas Award in Sociophysiology from the American Psychosomatic Society, a Charter Member of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society, and the Distinguished Primatologist in 2012 of the American Society of Primatologists. From 2010 to 2011 he served as guest editor of the American Journal of PrimatologySpecial issue on Social Processes and Disease in Nonhuman Primates. In 2008, he served as guest editor for Brain, Behavior and Immunity: Special issue on Personality, Immunity and Disease.

Research Focus

Capitanio's research focuses on the causes and consequences of individualvariation in temperament/personality in nonhuman primates. Research involving numerous students and collaborators has explored causes as diverse as monoaminergic genotype, prenatal experiences, exposure to pharmacological substances, and energy content and cortisol concentrations in mothers' milk. Outcomes that have been (and are being) examined include health outcomes (asthma, simian immunodeficiency virus infection and colitis), as well as mechanisms relevant to these diseases, including glucocorticoid regulation of immune function, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal regulation, immune cell gene expression, inflammation, and aspects of lymph node biology.  A strong emphasis throughout his research is on behavior and social processes, and how they shape, buffer and constrain physiological processes.

Selected Publications

  • Hinde, K., Skibiel, A. L.,  Foster, A. B.,   del Rosso, L., Mendoza, S. P.,  &   Capitanio, J. P. (in press). Cortisol in mother’s milk reflects maternal life history and predicts infanttemperament. Behavioral Ecology
  • Hennessy, M. B.,  McCowan, B., Jiang, J., & Capitanio, J. P.  Depressive-like behavioral response of adult male rhesus monkeys during routine animal husbandry procedure. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 8:309. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00309. 
  • Weinstein, T. A. R., Bales, K. L.,  Maninger, N., Hostetler, C. M., & Capitanio, J. P. (2014). Early involvement in friendships predicts later plasma concentrations of oxytocin and vasopressin in juvenile rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 8:295. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00295. 
  • Capitanio, J. P., Hawkley, L. C., Cole, S. W., &  Cacioppo, J. T. (in press). A behavioral taxonomy of loneliness in humans and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). PLoS One
  • Cacioppo, J. T., Cacioppo, S.,  Cole, S. W,  Capitanio, J. P., Goossens, & Boomsma, D.I. (accepted). Loneliness across phylogeny and a call for comparative studies and animal models. Perspectives on Psychological Science.


Capitanio has taught courses in Introductory Psychology, Introductory Biology, Introductory Psychobiology, Comparative Psychology, Animal Models of Psychopathology, Physiological Psychology, Health Psychology and History of Animal Behavior.


In 2011, John Capitanio  was elected as a member of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research and as a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. The American Psychological Association designated him a Fellow, Division 6, in 2004. He served as president of the American Society of Primatologists from 2000 to 2002. Earlier in his career, he won the Outstanding Teaching Award, University of California, Davis, in 1982 and from 1979 to 1981, he was awarded the University of California Regents' Fellowship (awarded annually).