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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Personality structure, sex differences, and temporal change and stability in wild white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus).

  • Author(s): Manson, Joseph H
  • Perry, Susan
  • et al.

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Research on nonhuman primate personality dimensions has focused on a small number of taxa, and little of this work has focused on wild populations. We used ratings to assess personality structure in wild white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) over a 9-year period, using a capuchin-specific rating instrument based partly on existing instruments. Adequate levels of interrater reliability were found for 24 of 26 items. A longitudinal analysis found that 15 of these items showed significant rank-order stability from adolescence through early adulthood. Principal components analysis revealed 5 components. Four of these components were recognizable "Big Five" dimensions: Extraversion (E), Openness (O), Neuroticism (N), and Agreeableness (A). A dimension incorporating aspects of high O and high Conscientiousness (C) was labeled Eccentricity. Every dimension except for N showed significant rank-order stability from adolescence through early adulthood. Males were more extraverted, open, neurotic, and eccentric than females, whereas females were more agreeable than males. A cross-sectional analysis revealed that openness and agreeableness declined, whereas eccentricity increased, during adulthood. The item content of capuchin Extraversion and Openness, and the existence of a distinctive Eccentricity dimension, are consistent with known characteristics of capuchin social and ecological adaptations, specifically the central roles of alliances, behavioral innovation, and social learning.

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