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Vanessa Amy Davina Wilson, PhD


Kognitive Ethologie

+49 551 3851-478


Kellnerweg 4
37077 Göttingen

I am interested in the assessment of social attention and perception, and how individuals differ in their responses to others. By combining personality assessment with cognitive testing and behavioural data, I examine individual differences in social responses.


Additional research interests:

- Personality and facial morphology

- Empathy assessment in NHPs

- Methodologies for testing social cognition

- How personality relates to well-being, and the broader applications of this research to animal welfare

- Comparative approaches to personality assessment

2016 - Present: Postdoctoral researcher, DPZ


2012-2016: PhD Psychology of Individual Differences. 

The University of Edinburgh

Thesis: Individual differences in nonhuman primates: Personality and its relationship to social interactions, socio-emotional perception, and well-being. Supervisors: Dr. Alex Weiss and Professor Elizabeth Austin.


2010-2011: MSc Psychology of Individual Differences

The University of Edinburgh


2005-2009: Zoology BSc (Hons)
The University of Aberdeen

Scottish Primate Research Group

American Society of Primatologists

Wilson, V. (2018). Costs, benefits and mechanisms of animal-assisted therapy: adopting a change in perspective. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 17(4).

Wilson, V. (2018). Hominid. In Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer.

Wilson, V. (2018). Hominoid. In Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer.

Wilson, V. A. D., Inoue-Murayama, M. & Weiss, A. (2018). A comparison of personality in the common and Bolivian squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus and Saimiri boliviensis). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 132(1), 24.

Wilson, V. A. D., Weiss, A., Humle, T., Morimura, N., Udono, T., Idani, G., Matsuzawa, T., Hirata, S. & Inoue-Murayama, M. (2017). Chimpanzee personality and the arginine vasopressin receptor 1A genotype. Behavior Genetics, 1-12.

Robinson, L. M., Waran, N. K., Leach, M. C., Morton, F. B., Paukner, A., Lonsdorf, E., Handel, I., Wilson, V. A. D., Brosnan, S. F., & Weiss, A. (2016). Happiness means welfare in brown capuchins (Sapajus apella). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 181,

Morton, F. B., Brosnan, S. F., Prétôt, L., Buchanan-Smith, H. M., O’Sullivan, E., Stocker, M., & Wilson, V. A. D. (2016). Using photographs to study animal social cognition and behaviour: Do capuchins’ responses to photos reflect reality? Behavioural Processes 124, 38-46.

Wilson, V. A. D. & Weiss, A. (2015). Social relationships in nonhuman primates: potential models of pervasive disorders. In (P. Roubertoux, Ed.) Organism models of autism spectrum disorders, Neuromethods 100: 283-302.

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., 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.



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