Professor Adam Hart explores the newest area in the science of animal behaviour – the study of personality within species as diverse as chimpanzees, song birds, sharks and sea anenomes. What can this fresh field of zoology tells us about the variety of personality among humans?
We are all familiar with the variety of temperament and character in the dog, Canis lupus familiaris, but this is the product of selective breeding by humans over generations. A more surprising revelation is that up and down the animal kingdom, Nature favours a mix of personality types within a species. Oxford ornithologists working in Wytham Woods have discovered that in a small bird species such as the great tit, both bold and shy individuals prosper in different ways.
The same applies to hermit crabs and sea anemones in the rock pools along the South Devon coast. In these creatures, Dr Mark Briffa sees a stripped-down equivalent of the extraversion-intraversion dimension of human personality.
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