Common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) personality

Sonja Koski, Hannah M Buchanan-Smith, Hayley Ash, Judith Burkart, Thomas Bugnyar, Alexander Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing evidence suggests that personality structure differs between species, but the evolutionary reasons for this variation are not fully understood. We built on earlier research on New World monkeys to further elucidate the evolution of personality structure in primates. We therefore examined personality in 100 family-reared adult common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) from three colonies on a 60-item questionnaire. Principal components analyses revealed five domains that were largely similar to those found in a previous study on captive, ex-pet, or formerly laboratory-housed marmosets that were housed in a sanctuary. The interrater reliabilities of domain scores were consistent with the interrater reliabilities of domain scores found in other species, including humans. Four domains---conscientiousness, agreeableness, inquisitiveness, and assertiveness---resembled personality domains identified in other nonhuman primates. The remaining domain, patience, was specific to common marmosets. We used linear models to test for sex and age differences in the personality domains. Males were lower than females in patience, and this difference was smaller in older marmosets. Older marmosets were lower in inquisitiveness. Finally, older males and younger females had higher scores in agreeableness than younger males and older females. These findings suggest that cooperative breeding may have promoted the evolution of social cognition and influenced the structure of marmoset prosocial personality characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-336
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2017


  • marmoset
  • personality
  • primates
  • cooperative breeding


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