Personality in the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park

Alexander Weiss, Michael Wilson, David Collins, Deus Mjungu, Shadrack Kamenya, Steffen Foerster, Anne Pusey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Researchers increasingly view animal personality traits as products of natural selection. We present data that describes the personalities of 128 eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) currently living in or who lived their lives in the Kasekela and Mitumba communities of Gombe National Park, Tanzania. We obtained ratings on 24 items from an established, reliable, well-validated questionnaire used to study personality in captive chimpanzee populations. Ratings were made by former and present Tanzanian field assistants who followed individual chimpanzees for years and collected detailed behavioral observations. Interrater reliabilities across items ranged from acceptable to good, but the personality dimensions they formed were not as interpretable as those from captive samples. However, the personality dimensions corresponded to ratings of 24 Kasekela chimpanzees on a different questionnaire in 1973 that assessed some similar traits. These correlations established the repeatability and construct validity of the present ratings, indicating that the present data can facilitate historical and prospective studies that will lead to better understanding of the evolution of personality in chimpanzees and other primates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number170146
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalScientific Data
Early online date24 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Oct 2017


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