Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Anthropology and Museum Studies

Publication Date



To further the potential for applied personality studies, we present a methodology for assessing personality in nonhuman animals without a priori assumptions, using behavioral measures to discriminate personality survey results. Our study group consisted of 12 free-ranging, provisioned, adult Tibetan macaques (Macaca thibetana) at the Valley of the Wild Monkeys, China. We asked familiar Chinese park guards and scientists to rate each of the 12 macaques using 27-item personality surveys. We also recorded behavioral observations (> 100 hrs) from August–September, 2012. The personality surveys showed reliability in 22 of the items that were then utilized in a principal component analysis that revealed five components: Insecurity, Reactivity, Boldness, Sociability, and Leadership. Prior personality research on Macaca show comparable components. In order to determine which behaviors would best predict those five personality components, we conducted ­discriminant analyses using behavioral measures as predictors. We found that behavioral measures of avoidance, lunging, fear-grinning, self-directed behaviors, touching, proximity and chasing could significantly predict personality component scores in certain situations. Finally, we analyzed the effects of situation (provisioning and tourists) and found situation influenced proximity and rates of avoidance and self-directed behaviors. Wider implementation of this methodology may permit long-term analysis of personality using behavioral proxies for established personality traits, in particular on research investigating the effects of tourism and provisioning on personality.


This article was originally published in the journal Current Zoology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


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