Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Animal personalities are more like humans than first thought

Date:
October 31, 2013
Source:
Deakin University
Summary:
A study has found for the first time that, just like humans, unpredictability is also a consistent behavioral trait in the animal world.

A Deakin University study has found for the first time that, just like humans, unpredictability is also a consistent behavioral trait in the animal world.

Related Articles


Animals are known to show consistent individual differences in behavior, which is often referred to as them displaying 'personality'. In contrast to previous research into these predictable aspects of behavior, this latest study has shown for the first time that some individual animals, just like humans, are consistently more unpredictable than others over time.

Unpredictability is a known and accepted aspect of human behavior much like we've always viewed predictable aspects of personality. However, until now it has never been studied in animals.

"We all know someone who is notoriously unpredictable - happy, friendly, supportive one day and grumpy and unhappy the next. My experience is that those people tend to be extroverts. Even though I don't know what to expect of them, I am often torn between liking them because they are easy to talk to and fun to be with, and disliking them for their volatility," said Associate Professor Peter Biro, a behavioral ecologist with Deakin's School of Life and Environmental Sciences and lead researcher on this study.

"Until now, unpredictability has only been studied extensively in humans, where it has been linked to learning, aging, and to certain diseases that produce erratic behavior due to fluctuations in brain chemicals.

"The results of this new study shed light on another important aspect of animal personality that has previously not been considered."

Working with Dr Bart Adriaenssens at the University of New South Wales, Dr Biro observed the behavior of adult male mosquitofish over 132 days. They found that the behavior of some individuals was consistently more predictable in a given context than others. Mosquitofish were used for the study because they are widespread and easily sampled from ponds in and around cities.

"We observed that individuals differed in their average levels of activity, but also differed in variability about their average activity," Dr Biro explained. "Some individuals chose to be active, others chose to be sedentary, some were consistent in their chosen level of activity, others not. But, we found no association between activity levels and predictability.

"What this tells us is that the fish differed in how unpredictable they were, and that this unpredictability is a consistent attribute over time.

"We believe that unpredictability might represent a form of behavioral flexibility that facilitates learning, or makes animals unpredictable to predators or competitors. Some have even referred to this phenomenon as representing 'free will' in animals. Our study, having confirmed that unpredictability is a trait, now sets the stage for further studies to test for this phenomenon in other species, and to tease out the causes and consequences of this behavioral variation."

The results of this study are published in the November issue of The American Naturalist, one of the world's premier peer-reviewed publications in ecology, population biology, evolution, and conservation research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Deakin University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Peter A. Biro, Bart Adriaenssens. Predictability as a Personality Trait: Consistent Differences in Intraindividual Behavioral Variation. The American Naturalist, 2013; 182 (5): 621 DOI: 10.1086/673213

Cite This Page:

Deakin University. "Animal personalities are more like humans than first thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031092311.htm>.
Deakin University. (2013, October 31). Animal personalities are more like humans than first thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031092311.htm
Deakin University. "Animal personalities are more like humans than first thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031092311.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins