School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences


Vanessa Wilson

Photograph of Vanessa Wilson
PhD Psychology
S1055261 @
Research Interests
Individual differences, social behaviour and emotional perception in primates.

I am a member of the Scottish Primate Research Group, and am involved in a number of collaborations with colleagues at Edinburgh, Stirling, and Kyoto Universities. My main research focus is on the associations of social behaviour, personality, well-being and emotional perception. This involves collection and analysis of both behavioural data and keeper-rated questionnaires. This work builds on that of my supervisor Dr Alex Weiss and his colleagues.

My current research projects and collaborations include:


  • Personality, facial metrics and facial perception in capuchins Sapajus apella.
  • Personality, wellbeing and genetic polymorphism in squirrel monkeys Saimiri sciureus and S. boliviensis.
  • Pet personality and attitudes of owners towards pets.
  • Emotional perception in chimpanzees.
  • Chimpanzee personality traits and neurodevelopmental disorders.



Wilson, V. A. D., Lefevre, C. E., Morton, F. B., Brosnan, S. F., Paukner, A., & Bates, T. C. (2014). Personality and facial morphology: Links to assertiveness and neuroticism in capuchins (Sapajus [Cebus] apella). Personality and Individual Differences, 58, 89-94.

Lefevre, C.E., Wilson, V. A. D., Morton, F. B., Brosnan, S., Paukner, A. & Bates, T. C. (2014). Facial width-to-height ratio predicts dominance in the primate face. PLoS ONE, 9(4), e93369. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093369

Wilson, V. A. D. & Weiss, A. (in press). Social relationships in nonhuman primates: potential models of pervasive disorders. In (P. Roubertoux, Ed.) Organism models of autism and pervasive neuro-developmental disorders. 



Le Roux, A., Beehner, J. C. & Bergman, T. J. (2011). Female Philopatry and Dominance Patterns in Wild Geladas. American Journal of Primatology 73, 422–430

Le Roux, A. & Bergman, T. J. (2012). Indirect rival assessment in a social primate, Theropithecus geladaAnimal Behaviour 82, 249-255.

Banes, G. L. (2012). The Kingfisher Encyclopedia of Life. London: Kingfisher.



Presentations and Conference Attendance

Invited talks

Edinburgh Zoo Research Talks (2013): Can we measure personality in the capuchin face?

Wildlife Research Centre, Kyoto University (2013): Personality in Squirrel Monkeys.

Walks and Talks, Bristol University (2013): Personality, Social Interactions & Emotional Perception in Primates.

Behaviour and Evolution Research Group, Stirling University (2012): Status Signals in the Primate Face.

Conference presentations

American Society of Primatology (2014): Does the face signal status? Captive capuchins' responses to wide versus narrow faces.

European Conference of Behavioural Biology (2014): Personality assessment in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus and Saimiri boliviensis).

Scottish Conference of Animal Behaviour (2014): Personality and facial morphology in capuchins, Sapajus apella [Poster presentation].

Scottish Primate Research Group Annual Meeting (2014): Can we measure personality in the capuchin face?

International Conference on Individual Differences (2013): Personality and facial morphology in capuchins, Sapajus apella [Poster presentation].

Scottish Primate Research Group Annual Meeting (2013): Personality in Squirrel Monkeys.

Scottish Conference of Animal Behaviour (2012): People, Pets and Personality.