Individual differences in chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) personality, learning, and engagement in touch screen tasks

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Impressive degrees of individual psychological differentiation exist in a wide range of primate species. Human work has long viewed personality and intelligence as intertwined, but in animal work it is more difficult to tease apart performance from motivation, particularly in participatory experiments. Additionally, previous work on primate cognition has not focused on measuring intelligence concurrently with engagement. Our aim was to examine chimpanzee cognitive performance on and behavior surrounding several touch screen tasks, using personality and engagement behaviors to control for variation in individual approaches to cognitive testing. 18 chimpanzees at the Edinburgh Zoo were given participatory access to a series of touchscreen tasks. Three variations on a 2-al ternative forced choice task were made available over the course of 3 years. Performance and behavioral data were collected for all tasks. Personality was assessed using the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire. Associations were characterized between personality dimensions and chimpanzees' signs of interest, including proximity to the apparatus, length of time and number of trials per sess ion, frequency of engagement, and performance. Multivariate models indicate that while Openness predicts performance (Chi2=4.46, p<0.05), other personality dimensions, such as Dominance and Neuroticism, also influence individual chimpanzees' engagement. Selection bias may skew the results of cognitive testing, but controlling for personality will allow us to form a more comprehensive understanding of primate learning and intelligence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-93
Number of pages1
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015
Event38th Annual Meeting of the American-Society-of-Primatologists - Bend, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Jun 201521 Jun 2015

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