Chimps / Similar Personality Traits to Humans

Also from Yerkes National Primate Research Center: Chimps’ Gestures Explain how Human Languages Appeared

Weasel words in green. My comments.

Chimpanzees Show Similar Personality Traits to Humans

May 6, 2014 / Georgia State University
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, (just like Autism questionnaires) who rate individual chimps in 43 categories based on their observation of the animals’ daily behavior. Is the chimp excitable? Impulsive? Playful? Timid? Dominant? (Note that these are human emotion-behavior words – the assumption being that chimps are “just like us” – which is what the psychologists are trying to prove / another “conclusion as hypothesis” error. Also, these “emotions” are highly subjective depending on the human caretaker’s relation to the chimp and degree of anthropomorphic bias. Again! – just like bias in Autism questionnaires. THESE ARE NOT WILD CHIMPS, but thoroughly contaminated-by-humans LABORATORY ANIMALS.

When you think about it, maybe research on enslaved, depressed and zoochotic chimps does produce great models for social typical human personalities and behaviors.

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 under controlled “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. (Well, duh! If you use a system of human personality traits to evaluate chimps, you are going to get “human” personality traits in chimps. Same goes for dogs… Is the dog excitable? Impulsive? Playful? Timid? Dominant? )

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. (Alpha-Beta are BORROWED from Wolf Pack hierarchy; jargon now transferred to any and all “social” species – really not kosher)

Further analysis shows these lower order traits also can be statistically broken down into their constituent parts. (Which came first? “Analysis – guess” that 5 factors “exist” or are the 5 factors the result of statistical manipulation that “reveals” 5 factors?) 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. (Wow! How unconvincing this leap is!)

Now, for the neurobiology: many of those chimpanzee traits statistically correlate with the function of a neuropeptide called vasopressin. (The “love” hormone in monogamous prairie voles) 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. (Sweeping generalization of the type so common in psychology: claim that your flimsy subjective pre-conclusion is “valid” by tacking on “neuro” and “evolution” – so it ‘sounds’ like Science. In fact, it would be impossible for personality TO NOT BE neurobiological, since personality arises in the physical organism: it’s not a “supernatural thing” stuffed into the brain body by imaginary entities – space aliens or elves, or Jesus. – but maybe, since this is Georgia…LOL) 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. (Humans and most species equipped with nervous systems have ‘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.



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