Rating Methodology, Personality Axes, and Behavioral Plasticity: A Case Study in African Lions

Animal personality refers to individual differences in behavior that are consistent across time and across contexts. As it plays an ecological and evolutionary role for many animals by affecting fitness, it is likely to play a role in how both species and individuals fare in captivity. Assessment of animal personality by caretaker ratings has been […]

Personality, environmental stressors, and diarrhea in Rhesus macaques: An interactionist perspective

Previous research has repeatedly shown both personality and psychological stress to predict gastrointestinal disorders and chronic diarrhea in humans. The goal of the present research was to evaluate the role of personality, as well as psychological stressors (i.e., housing relocations and rearing environment), in predicting chronic diarrhea in captive Rhesus macaques, with particular attention to […]

Behavioral, demographic, and management influences on equine responses to negative reinforcement

Understanding the factors that influence horse learning is critical to ensure horse welfare and rider safety. In this study, data were obtained from horses (n = 96) training to step backward through a corridor in response to bit pressure. After training, learning ability was determined by the latency to step backward through the corridor when handled […]

Animal personality due to social niche specialisation

The existence of ‘animal personality’, i.e. consistent individual differences in behaviour across time and contexts, is an evolutionary puzzle that has recently generated considerable research interest. Although social factors are generally considered to be important, it is as yet unclear how they might select for personality. Drawing from ecological niche theory, we explore how social […]

Unravelling animal personalities: how and why individuals consistently differ

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Behavioural reaction norms: animal personality meets individual plasticity

Recent studies in the field of behavioural ecology have revealed intriguing variation in behaviour within single populations. Increasing evidence suggests that individual animals differ in their average level of behaviour displayed across a range of contexts (animal ‘personality’), and in their responsiveness to environmental variation (plasticity), and that these phenomena can be considered complementary aspects […]

Are we barking up the right tree? Evaluating a comparative approach to personality

Animal studies can enrich the field of human personality psychology by addressing questions that are difficult or impossible to address with human studies alone. However, the benefits of a comparative approach to personality cannot be reaped until the tenability of the personality construct has been established in animals. Using criteria established in the wake of […]

Novel Environmental Enrichment May Provide a Tool for Rapid Assessment of Animal Personality: A Case Study With Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

Historically, the assessment of nonhuman animal personality has included a variety of methods—from direct behavioral observations in a variety of test situations to assessments provided by animal caretakers or trainers. Careful observation of how animals in zoos interact with novel enrichment may provide reliable insight into their personality. This study sought to describe a process […]

Consistency of temperament in bighorn ewes and correlates with behaviour and life history

Individual differences in temperament may affect how animals react to novel situations, avoid predation, invest in reproduction and behave in a variety of social contexts. Little information is available, however, about individual differences in temperament for wild animals. For bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis, ewes captured as part of a long-term study, we compared behaviour during […]

Growth-mortality tradeoffs and ‘personality traits’ in animals

Consistent individual differences in boldness, reactivity, aggressiveness, and other ‘personality traits’ in animals are stable within individuals but vary across individuals, for reasons which are currently obscure. Here, I suggest that consistent individual differences in growth rates encourage consistent individual differences in behavior patterns that contribute to growth-mortality tradeoffs. This hypothesis predicts that behavior patterns […]