Abstract # 135:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 06:30 PM-09:00 PM: Session 14 (Mission Bay Ballroom CDE) Poster Presentation


A LONGITUDINAL ASSESSMENT OF GORILLA PERSONALITY

B. M. Perdue1,2, T. S. Stoinski2,3, K. C. Gold1, C. W. Kuhar4, K. E. Lukas4 and T. L. Maple1
1Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Psychology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA, 2Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia, 3Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, 4Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
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Personality measures may represent a useful tool for managing captive animals. For example, such information might improve decision making about forming social groups, relocating individuals and breeding introductions. However, the usefulness of personality measurements relies on the assumption that personality is a stable trait across time and context. The current study investigated the stability of personality across time in Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Personality was measured in 79 captive male gorillas in 1993 and 2000 using the Gorilla Behavior Index (GBI). Surveys were administered to animal care staff and twenty-five adjectives were rated using a 5-point Likert scale. Four personality factors were identified in 1993 and replicated in 2000: extroverted, fearful, dominant and understanding. In the current study, a Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient was calculated to test the stability of each personality factor between 1993 and 2000. Extroverted and fearful were highly correlated between the two time points [extroverted: r=0.58, p<0.001; fearful: r=0.42, p<0.001] and understanding was marginally correlated [r=0.21, p=0.065]. There was not a significant correlation between dominant ratings between the two time points [r=0.17, p=0.128]. The findings suggest that the factors extroversion, fearful, and possibly understanding, represent stable personality traits, and that dominance may represent a more state-dependent characteristic.