April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
By observing and collecting data for 18 years on 298 gorillas in North American zoos and sanctuaries, an international team of scientists has examined the role of personality.
Keepers, volunteers, researchers and caretakers who knew the gorillas well assessed their personalities, using a scoring method adapted from techniques for studying people and other primates.
They found four personality traits — dominance, extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness. Of these four, extraversion is associated with behaviors such as sociability, activity, play and curiosity. It is also linked with longer survival.
The study, published recently in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, found that the link between extraversion and survival is not affected by gender, age, rearing conditions, or how many times the gorilla had moved location. The findings are consistent with studies in people, which also found that extraverts tend to live longer.
The researchers say that it is important for understanding how the relationship between personality and longevity of life evolved.
Dr Alex Weiss, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, said, “These findings highlight how understanding the natural history of personality is vital to insuring the continued health and well-being of humans, gorillas and other great apes.”