Animal minds Intelligent Design

Why do researchers need to try to prove that animals have personalities?

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Every friend of dogs, cats, or birds knows what some researchers struggle to prove. Let’s take a look at what they found:

Recently, a research team announced that marmosets — small highly social New World monkeys — display personality traits, whether they are wild or captive… While a marmoset’s personality typically did not change, those who became dominant in family hierarchies grew bolder over time.

But, we might ask, why should anyone have been surprised? Why shouldn’t animals have personalities? They have individual bodies and individual experiences. They certainly don’t need human-like intelligence to have a personality. A working memory is probably good enough.

Another recent study allowed us to know that dogs are aware of their own bodies…

Denyse O’Leary, “Why do researchers wonder whether animals have personalities?” at Mind Matters News

We end up looking at personality among reptiles, with some surprising results.

Mammals, birds, and reptiles differ by ability but those that have been studied seem to have individual personalities within the frame of their intelligence. What they don’t have or make little use of is abstract reasoning.

See also: The real reason why only human beings speak. Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly. (Michael Egnor)

4 Replies to “Why do researchers need to try to prove that animals have personalities?

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    Come on. If you’ve EVER had a dog you KNOW animals have personalities. And if you have any doubt, watch “Big Cat Diary”. Hyenas are one of the few pack animals where the pack leader is ALWAYS female. But of course whales also follow a female leader. “Leaders” are the most obvious proof of Personality in wild animals.

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    But, we might ask, why should anyone have been surprised? Why shouldn’t animals have personalities? They have individual bodies and individual experiences. They certainly don’t need human-like intelligence to have a personality. A working memory is probably good enough.

    What they have is a nature and like humans many develop synapses over time. So one would expect different behavior from one to another. However, this behavior is limited by animal type or nature. There is a natural law for each animal species.

    Dogs definitely have personalities. From personal experience. Don’t know about cats. Never had any except one who we took care of for two weeks and would wake us up at 5:30 every morning.

    We would have secondary names for all our dogs based on their personalities. One was “lion king,” one was “underfoot” and another was “pure fun.”

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    In the history of my life and I’ve owned many animals I did not know of a single one that had the same personality they all have personalities

  4. 4
    asauber says:

    I think “personality” is the wrong choice of words to describe the variances in what animals have/are/do.

    They have different “animalities” …to coin a term. 😉

    Andrew

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