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Chimpanzees and Man Share Human Personality Traits

A recent study may answer whether apes and humans share similar personality traits that indicate the two groups have much in common. Chimpanzees and also orangutans appear to have personalities much like human beings.

Researchers in the United Kingdom report that chimpanzees have the same social problems as humans in that they want to make friends find mates, and gain a position within their society.

Five Dimensions Shared by Both Groups

Chimpanzees share all five dimensions, while orangutans only display extraversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness.

  • Neuroticism
  • Extroversion
  • Openness to experience
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness

Orangutans were found to only display three of the dimensions: extroversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness.

According to a report on the BBC, the explanation for the shared dimensions is that both humans and chimps shared a common ancestor 4 to 6 million years ago. This explains why chimpanzees are more similar to humans than orangutans. Common chimpanzees are said to share 98% of human genes and are appear to be the most intelligent non-human animal. For example, they have been observed as using tools made of sticks; rock leaves in their search for food.

Disagreement About Study Results

An article in the Christian Courier states that while there may be similarities, the evidence does not even remotely indicate a relationship between human beings and the ape family. Instead, they believe there are vast differences between humanity and the lower primates.

Clive Wynne, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and director of the Canine Cognition & Behavior Lab at the University of Florida, where he conducts cognitive studies on wolves at Wolf Park. Dr. Wynne believes that anthropomorphic projection, i.e., the attribution of the human form, personality, and traits to an animal, is a mistake. However, he critically notes that human beings tend to project human attributes onto animals as a way of understanding the world around them.

Dr. Wynne has stated that ” It’s very deeply ingrained into our ways of trying to understand the world around us. But despite our inevitable “human perspective” in the way we see the animal kingdom, he says, “since these animals are not us, although it is difficult, we should nonetheless struggle to get our own perspective out of the way and to try and see them for themselves.”

Members of the research team came from Kyoto University in Japan and the University of Arizona in the United States. They used questionnaires sent to 230 observers in zoos and research centers in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan.