Sunday, 3 November 2013

Animal Personalities Are More Like Humans Than First Thought

Oct. 31, 2013 — 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.

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.

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