In studying primate cognition our group special focus has been on personality from ontogenetic and evolutionary perspectives. The topic of personality has shown an exponential increase of interest in biology in general, and primatology is the area at the growing edge of its study. Despite this interest, much work is yet to be done to articulate a comprehensive view of personality evolution through the primates’ phylogeny. Furthermore, no consensus yet exists with respect to the models of personality ontogeny that primatologists assume as foundations of their work.
Our research focuses on a bottom-up approach which starts from the typical behaviors of each species (species ethogram). We hope to contribute to a comprehensive theory, in which ontogenetic and evolutionary aspects at behavioral, social and brain levels are integrated.
We consider personality to be a dynamic structure that evolves throughout the phylogeny of primates. We are particularly interested in integrating knowledge and interests regarding personality, including the different ontogenetic factors involved (attachment process, epigenetic factors, social hierarchy, cognitive abilities, etc.), as well as in work comparing primates of different species.
Our current in-progress project has collected data from different species of the order of Primates. Observations were conducted in Lagos’ Zoo (Algarve), in Badoca Safari Park (Alentejo), and in Maia’s Zoo (Porto). The species include two strepsirrhine - red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra) and ring tail lemur (Lemur catta); several haplorrhine, both platirrhine, anthropoids from the new world - capuchin monkeys (Sapjus apella) and saimiris (Saimiri boliviensis); and catarrhine - anthropoids from the old world - white hand gibbons (Hylobates lar) and mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx).