Affective styles and emotional lateralization: A promising framework for animal welfare research

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Charlotte Goursot, Sandra Düpjan, Birger Puppe, Lisette MC Leliveld
Applied Animal Behaviour Science
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The growing recognition of animals as individuals has broader implications for farm animal welfare research. Even under highly standardized on-farm conditions, farm animals show heterogeneous but individually consistent behavioural patterns towards various stimuli, based on how they appraise these stimuli. As a result, animal welfare is likely to be highly individual as well, and studying the proximate mechanisms underlying distinct individual behaviour patterns and appraisal will improve animal welfare research. We propose to extend the framework of affective styles to bridge the gap between existing research fields on animal personality and affective states. Affective styles refer to consistent individual differences in emotional reactivity and regulation and can be predicted by baseline cerebral lateralization. Likewise, animals with consistent left or right motor biases—a proxy measure of individual patterns in cerebral lateralization—have been shown to differ in their personality, emotional reactivity, motivational tendencies or coping styles. In this paper, we present the current knowledge of the links between laterality and stable individual traits in behaviour and affect in light of hypotheses on emotional lateralization. Within our suggested framework, we make recommendations on how to investigate affective styles in non-human animals and give practical examples. This approach has the potential to promote a science of affective styles in nonhuman animals and significantly advance research on animal welfare.


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