Whither dominance? An enduring evolutionary legacy of primate sociality

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article discusses dominance personality dimensions found in primates, particularly in the great apes, and how they compare to dominance in humans. Dominance traits are seen in virtually all primate species, and these dimensions reflect how adept an individual is at ascending within a social hierarchy. Among great apes, dominance is one of the most prominent personality factors but, in humans, dominance is usually modeled as a facet of extraversion. Social, cultural, and cognitive differences between humans and our closest ape relatives are explored, alongside humanity’s hierarchical and egalitarian heritage. The basic characteristics of dominance in humans and nonhuman great apes are then described, alongside the similarities and differences between great apes. African apes live in societies each with its own hierarchical organization. Humans were a possible exception for some of our history, but more recently, hierarchies have dominated. The general characteristics of high-dominance humans, particularly those living in industrialized nations, are described. Dominance itself can be subdivided into correlated subfactors: domineering, prestige, and leadership. Various explanations have been posed for why dominance has declined in prominence within human personality factor structures, and several possibilities are evaluated. The value of dominance in personality research is discussed: dominance has links to, for instance, age, sex, aggression, self-esteem, locus of control, stress, health, and multiple socioeconomic status indicators. The piece concludes with recommendations for researchers who wish to assess dominance in personality.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1
JournalPersonality Neuroscience
Early online date8 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • assertiveness
  • dominance
  • great apes
  • hierarchy
  • leadership


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