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Appears in Collections:Psychology Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Wild Female African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) Exhibit Personality Traits of Leadership and Social Integration
Author(s): Lee, Phyllis C
Moss, Cynthia J
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Keywords: elephant personality
individual differences
African elephant behavior
Issue Date: Aug-2012
Citation: Lee PC & Moss CJ (2012) Wild Female African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) Exhibit Personality Traits of Leadership and Social Integration. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 126 (3), pp. 224-232.
Abstract: Animal personalities have been demonstrated for almost 200 species, with stable dimensions of responses (aggressive to fearful; shy to bold) across contexts and with a heritable basis to these traits. As a long-lived and highly social species, elephants (Loxodonta africana) were expected to demonstrate complex dimensions to individual characteristics or personalities, which would be obvious to human observers and validated by behavioral observations. We used principal-components analysis of ratings on 26 behavioral adjectives applied to one social unit, coded as the EB family, which has been observed for 38 years. Eleven adult females were rated by four observers and found to have individually variable traits on four dimensions described by principal-components analysis. The first component was associated with effective and confident family leadership. Component 2 was age-related, and defined by playfulness, exploration and high levels of activity, suggesting both an experience and an age-related element to its structure. Component 3 represented gentleness and at its other extreme, aggression, and Component 4 was related to constancy (predictability and popularity), with both of these latter components reflecting social integration. Leadership among elephant females represents the successful negotiation among individual interests, and our components were related to a capacity to affect the behavior of others in the absence of aggressive dominance. The family matriarch, Echo, was high on elements associated with leadership. The importance of the matriarch in this family's success suggests that elements of personality may underlie interfamilial variation in long-term survival and reproduction.
DOI Link: 10.1037/a0026566
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