Aping humans: Age and sex effects in chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and human (Homo sapiens) personality

James E King, Alexander Weiss, Melissa M Sisco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ratings of 202 chimpanzees on 43 personality descriptor adjectives were used to calculate scores on five domains analogous to the human Five-Factor Model and a chimpanzee-specific Dominance domain. Male and female chimpanzees were divided into five age groups ranging from juvenile to old adult. Internal consistencies and interrater reliabilities of factors were stable across age groups and approximately 6.8 year retest reliabilities were high. Age-related declines in Extraversion and Openness and increases in Agreeableness and Conscientiousness paralleled human age differences. The mean change in absolute standardized units for all five factors was virtually identical in humans and chimpanzees after adjustment for different developmental rates. Consistent with their aggressive behavior in the wild, male chimpanzees were rated as more aggressive, emotional, and impulsive than females. Chimpanzee sex differences in personality were greater than comparable human gender differences. These findings suggest that chimpanzee and human personality develop via an unfolding maturational process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-427
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • adolescent
  • adult
  • aggression
  • aging
  • animals
  • emotions
  • female
  • humans
  • impulsive behavior
  • male
  • middle aged
  • pan troglodytes
  • personality
  • personality assessment
  • sex factors
  • social behavior
  • species specificity
  • young adult


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