Scientists confirm primate personalities

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CHIMPANZEES and orangutans have real personalities similar to those of people, according to animal behaviour experts.

The findings contradict previous theories which suggested that scientists were attributing human characteristics to animals to make better sense of their behaviour.

A study of hundreds of apes by researchers from Edinburgh University, Kyoto University and the University of Arizona has found that even accounting for the biases of human observers, the personality traits of these apes group together in ways similar to those of people.

According to scientists, groupings of personality traits – such as dominance, neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness – can be found in apes.

Orangutans also display what researchers termed “intellect”, a unique combination of being open to experiences and conscientiousness.

Lead author Dr Alexander Weiss said: “It’s an interesting development as until now, conscientiousness, which includes being careful and organised, had only been identified in chimps and humans.”