Verspeek, J., Staes, N., Van Leeuwen, E. J. C., Eens, M., & Stevens, J. M. G.
(2019). Bonobo personality predicts friendship. Scientific Reports, 9: 19245. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-55884-3.
In bonobos, strong bonds have been documented between unrelated females and between mothers
and their adult sons, which can have important fitness benefits. Often age, sex or kinship similarity
have been used to explain social bond strength variation. Recent studies in other species also stress
the importance of personality, but this relationship remains to be investigated in bonobos. We used
behavioral observations on 39 adult and adolescent bonobos housed in 5 European zoos to study the
role of personality similarity in dyadic relationship quality. Dimension reduction analyses on individual
and dyadic behavioral scores revealed multidimensional personality (Sociability, Openness, Boldness,
Activity) and relationship quality components (value, compatibility). We show that, aside from
relatedness and sex combination of the dyad, relationship quality is also associated with personality
similarity of both partners. While similarity in Sociability resulted in higher relationship values, lower
relationship compatibility was found between bonobos with similar Activity scores. The results of this
study expand our understanding of the mechanisms underlying social bond formation in anthropoid
apes. In addition, we suggest that future studies in closely related species like chimpanzees should
implement identical methods for assessing bond strength to shed further light on the evolution of this