Infant rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) personality and subjective well-being

Elizabeth A. Simpson, Lauren M. Robinson, Annika Paukner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Infant temperament is theorized to lay the foundation for adult personality; however, many questions remain regarding personality in infancy, including the number of dimensions, extent to which they are adult-like, and their relation to other outcomes, such as mental and physical health. Here we tested whether adult-like personality dimensions are already present in infancy in a nonhuman primate species. We measured personality and subjective well-being in 7-month-old rhesus macaques (N = 55) using the Hominoid Personality Questionnaire and Subjective Well-Being Questionnaire, both of which were developed for adult primates based on human measures. Multiple human raters, who provided infants with daily care since birth, independently rated each infant. We found high interrater reliability. Results from a parallel analysis and scree plot indicated a five component structure, which, using principal components analysis, we found to be comprised of dimensions relating to Openness (e.g., curiosity, inquisitive, playfulness), Assertiveness (e.g., dominance, bullying, aggressive), Anxiety (e.g., vigilance, fearful), Friendliness (e.g., sociable, affectionate, sympathetic), and Intellect (e.g., organized, not erratic). These components are largely analogous to those in adult macaques, suggesting remarkably stable structural personality components across the lifespan. Infant macaques' subjective well-being positively correlates with Openness and Assertiveness and negatively correlated with Anxiety, similar to findings in adult macaques and other primates. Together, these findings suggest that, in macaques, infant personality dimensions may be conceptually related to adult personality and challenge the view that infant temperament may be disorganized and not as meaningful as adult personality. Further research is necessary to explore the antecedents, predictive validity, and stability of these personality components across situations and with development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0226747
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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