Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Chimpanzees show similar personality traits to humans, Georgia State researchers say


Chimpanzees have almost the same personality traits as humans, and they are structured almost identically, according to new work led by researchers at Georgia State University.

The research also shows some of those traits have a neurobiological basis, and that those traits vary according to the biological sex of the individual chimpanzee.

"Our work also demonstrates the promise of using chimpanzee models to investigate the neurobiology of personality processes," said Assistant Professor Robert Latzman of Psychology, who led the research team. "We know that these processes are associated with a variety of emotional health outcomes. We're excited to continue investigating these links."

The team, which also included Professor William Hopkins of Neuroscience, started with a common tool for analyzing chimp personalities called the Chimpanzee Personality Questionnaire.

The questionnaire is filled out by the chimpanzees' caregivers, who rate individual chimps in 43 categories based on their observation of the animals' daily behavior. Is the chimp excitable? Impulsive? Playful? Timid? Dominant? The questionnaire records it all.

The researchers analyzed complete questionnaires for 174 chimpanzees housed at the Yerkes National Primate Center at Emory University. They ran extensive individual analyses to find out which traits tend to go together, and which combine to make more basic, fundamental "meta-traits."

The analysis showed that the most fundamental personality trait for chimpanzees is dominance – that is, whether an animal is a generally dominant and undercontrolled "Alpha," or a more playful and sociable "Beta."

But those two big categories can be broken down statistically into smaller personality traits in ways that echo the personality structures researchers have repeatedly found in child and adult human subjects.

Alpha personalities, for example, statistically break down into tendencies toward dominance and disinhibition. Beta personalities, on the other hand, show low dominance and positive emotionality.

Further analysis shows these lower order traits also can be statistically broken down into their constituent parts. The research team identified five personality factors that combine differently in each individual chimpanzee: conscientiousness, dominance, extraversion, agreeableness and intellect. This echoes a well-known five-factor model of the human personality, although the specific factors are slightly different.

Now, for the neurobiology: many of those chimpanzee traits statistically correlate with the function of a neuropeptide called vasopressin. Chimps who were born with a common variant in the genes that control vasopressin behaved differently than their peers, the males showing more dominance and more disinhibition, but the females less of both.

This research shows not only a neurobiological basis for personality, but an evolutionary basis as well. The neurobiological bases of personality can vary according to the biological sex of the subject, at least in chimpanzees. Chimpanzee personality appears to have almost the same ingredients as human personalities, and that similarity seems to arise from the species' similar neurobiology.

"These results are particularly significant in light of the striking parallels between the major dimensions of personality found between chimpanzees and humans," said Sam Gosling, professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and an internationally known researcher in cross-species personality research.


"Personality in Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes): Exploring the Hierarchical Structure and Associations with the Vasopressin V1A Receptor Gene," appeared in the April 21 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Research Resources.

Ann Claycombe | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Chimpanzee chimp chimpanzees dominance factors humans individual neurobiological personality species subjects traits

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod

21.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Second research flight into zero gravity

21.10.2016 | Life Sciences

How Does Friendly Fire Happen in the Pancreas?

21.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>