Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) as living fossils of hominoid personality and subjective well-being.
Personality dimensions capturing individual differences in behavior, cognition, and affect have been described in several species, including humans, chimpanzees, and orangutans. However, comparisons between species are limited by the use of different questionnaires. We asked raters to assess free-ranging rhesus macaques at two time points on personality and subjective well-being questionnaires used earlier to rate chimpanzees and orangutans. Principal-components analysis yielded domains we labeled Confidence, Friendliness, Dominance, Anxiety, Openness, and Activity. The presence of Openness in rhesus macaques suggests it is an ancestral characteristic. The absence of Conscientiousness suggests it is a derived characteristic in African apes. Higher Confidence and Friendliness, and lower Anxiety were prospectively related to subjective well-being, indicating that the connection between personality and subjective well-being in humans, chimpanzees, and orangutans is ancestral in catarrhine primates. As demonstrated here, each additional species studied adds another fold to the rich, historical story of primate personality evolution.