Research Finds Orcas Share Personality Traits With Humans And Chimpanzees

Source: Phys.org/American Psychological Association

Photo: Christopher Michel/Wikimedia Commons

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Killer whales display personality traits similar to those of humans and chimpanzees, such as playfulness, cheerfulness and affection, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers in Spain analyzed the  of 24 captive killer  (Orcinus orca) at SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego and the Loro Parque zoo in Tenerife, Spain, which operates its killer whale program in partnership with SeaWorld. Six of the killer whales were caught in the wild while the remainder were born in captivity.

Trainers and other staff who worked closely with the killer whales completed surveys ranking each animal on a list of 38  traits, including playfulness, independence, stubbornness, bravery, sensitivity and protectiveness. Those traits were analyzed and compared with previous studies of the same personality traits for chimpanzees and humans. The research was published online in the Journal of Comparative Psychology.

“This is the first study to examine the personality traits of killer whales and how they relate to us and other primates,” said lead researcher Yulán Úbeda, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Girona in Spain.

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Photo: Christopher Michel/Wikimedia Commons

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