Abstract # 130:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 14, 2014 04:00 PM-04:15 PM: Session 20 (Henry Oliver) Oral Presentation


CONTEXTUAL STABILITY OF BEHAVIORALLY ASSESSED PERSONALITY TRAITS IN TWO GROUPS OF CAPTIVE CHIMPANZEES (PAN TROGLODYTES)

J. Watzek, D. Proctor, S. E. Calcutt and F. B. de Waal
Living Links, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 2409 Taylor Lane, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, USA
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     Chimpanzees show consistent individual differences in behavior patterns across time and situations. Although an emerging body of research suggests temporal stability of these ‘personality traits,’ there is no empirical evidence addressing stability across social contexts. In addition, primate personality is primarily assessed with non-behavioral methods, such as questionnaires. We observed the social interactions of 15 chimpanzees before and after the restructuring of their social groups for management purposes, which included introducing new individuals. We conducted 90-minute observations on two groups for a total of 174 and 162 hours over a period of two years prior and four months after the new group formations. For reference, we compared data with 16 chimpanzees that did not experience external changes to their group composition. We calculated autocorrelations of each individual’s behaviors as an indicator of stability in personality. A Wilcoxon rank sum test on these correlations indicated no significant difference in the change of behavior patterns in a restructured group compared to the change in a stable group, W = 131, p = .341. These results complement claims of chimpanzee personality by supporting their stability over time as well as across radically different social contexts. We stress the importance of assessing animal personality behaviorally as it allows ecologically valid conclusions and facilitates a comparative approach across species.