Book Chapter

Chimpanzee Faces Under the Magnifying Glass: Emerging Methods Reveal Cross-Species Similarities and Individuality


Bard KA, Gaspar AD & Vick S (2011) Chimpanzee Faces Under the Magnifying Glass: Emerging Methods Reveal Cross-Species Similarities and Individuality. In: Weiss A, King J & Murray L (eds.) Personality and Temperament in Nonhuman Primates. Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects. New York: Springer, pp. 193-231.

Independently, we created descriptive systems to characterize chimpanzee facial behavior, responding to a common need to have an objective, standardized coding system to ask questions about primate facial behaviors. Even with slightly different systems, we arrive at similar outcomes, with convergent conclusions about chimpanzee facial mobility. This convergence is a validation of the importance of the approach, and provides support for the future use of a facial action coding system for chimpanzees,ChimpFACS. Chimpanzees share many facial behaviors with those of humans. Therefore, processes and mechanisms that explain individual differences in facial activity can be compared with the use of a standardized systems such asChimpFACSandFACS. In this chapter we describe our independent methodological approaches, comparing how we arrived at our facial coding categories. We present some Action Descriptors (ADs) from Gaspar’s initial studies, especially focusing on an ethogram of chimpanzee and bonobo facial behavior, based on studies conducted between 1997 and 2004 at three chimpanzee colonies (The Detroit Zoo; Cleveland Metroparks Zoo; and Burger’s Zoo) and two bonobo colonies (The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium; The Milwaukee County Zoo). We discuss the potential significance of arising issues, the minor qualitative species differences that were found, and the larger quantitative differences in particular facial behaviors observed between species, e.g., bonobos expressed more movements containing particular action units (Brow Lowerer, Lip Raiser, Lip Corner Puller) compared with chimpanzees. The substantial interindividual variation in facial behavior within each species was most striking. Considering individual differences and the impact of development, we highlight the flexibility in facial activity of chimpanzees. We discuss the meaning of facial behaviors in nonhuman primates, addressing specifically individual attributes of Social Attraction, facial expressivity, and the connection of facial behavior to emotion. We do not rule out the communicative function of facial behavior, in which case an individual’s properties of facial behavior are seen as influencing his or her social life, but provide strong arguments in support of the role of facial behavior in the expression of internal states.

Title of seriesDevelopments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects
Publication date31/12/2011
Publisher URL…-1-4614-0176-6_8
Place of publicationNew York