Personality in the behaviour of great apes: temporal stability, cross-situational consistency and coherence in response

Jana Uher*, Jens B. Asendorpf, Josep Call

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Using a multidisciplinary approach, the present study complements ethological behaviour measurements with basic theoretical concepts, methods and approaches of the personality psychological trait paradigm. Its adoptability and usefulness for animal studies are tested exemplarily on a sample of 20 zoo-housed great apes (five of each of the following species): bonobos, Pan paniscus; chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes verus; gorillas, Gorilla gorilla gorilla; and orang-utans, Pongo pygmaeus abelii. Data on 76 single trait-relevant behaviours were recorded in a series of 14 laboratory-based situations and in two different group situations. Data collection was repeated completely after a break of 2 weeks within a 50-day period. All behaviour records were sufficiently reliable. Individual- and variable-oriented analyses showed high/substantial temporal stability on different levels of aggregation. Distinctive and stable individual situational and response profiles clarified the importance of situations and of multiple trait-relevant behaviours. The present study calls for a closer collaboration between behavioural biologists and personality psychologists to tap the full potential of animal personality research. (C) 2007 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-112
Number of pages14
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • behaviour prediction
  • bonobo
  • bottom-up approach
  • chimpanzee
  • gorilla
  • individual differences
  • orang-utan
  • personality
  • traits
  • TIME


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