Behaviour 2019
Sex bias in chimpanzee research: an assessment of male representation in behavioral literature
Nicholas E. Johnson, Kamryn A. Dehn, Diana T. Quintero-Bisono, Stacy Lindshield. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, United States

Animal behavior research that is biased towards some demographics more than others may create blind spots in the scientific literature. Behaviorists (e.g., human behavioral ecologists) have long been criticized for over-emphasizing the impact that male-biased activities (e.g., hunting, politics of food sharing) played in the evolution of human behavior more than those of females. This study determines if there is a sex bias in chimpanzee behavioral research with males being overrepresented as animal subjects in relation to their population-level demographic composition. To test this idea, we extracted metadata on demographics, sample sizes, and research topics from 309 peer-reviewed publications involving wild chimpanzees. We found that males were overrepresented as study subjects at 66% of study sites (N=4 of 6 sites) and in 20% of research topics (N=2 of 10 topics). Furthermore, social behavior was the most common research topic, and it was male-biased. These findings support the claim that male-biased research continues in anthropological research, including in one of the best studied primates for modeling the evolution of human behavior.