Divergent Personality Structures of Brown (Sapajus apella) and White-Faced Capuchins (Cebus capucinus)

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Abstract

One way to gain insights into personality evolution is by comparing the personality structures of related species. We compared the personality structure of 240 wild white-faced capuchin monkeys to the personality structure of 100 captive brown capuchin monkeys. An ancillary goal was to test the degree to which different personality questionnaires yielded similar personality dimensions. Both species were rated on a common set of 26 antonym pairs. The brown capuchin monkeys were also rated on the 54-item Hominoid Personality Questionnaire. Our cross-species comparisons revealed 3 personality dimensions—Assertiveness, Openness, and Neuroticism—shared by brown and white-faced capuchins, suggesting that these dimensions were present in the common ancestor of these species. Our comparison of the dimensions derived from the antonym pairs and the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire revealed that three common dimensions were identified by both questionnaires. In addition, the dimension Attentiveness was only identified using the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire. These results indicate that major features of capuchin personality are conserved and that the structure of some traits, such as those related to focus, persistence, and attention, diverged. Further work is needed to identify the evolutionary bases that led to the conservation of some dimensions but not others.

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