Cooks and waiters, comedians and sticks in the mud, sheep and shepherds, extreme sports genius adventurers and dull loafers –

Even Among Animals: Leaders, Followers and Schmoozers

Scientists studying animals from virtually every niche of the bestial kingdom have found evidence of distinctive personalities — bundled sets of behaviors, quirks, preferences and pet peeves that remain stable over time and across settings. They have found stylistic diversity in chimpanzees, monkeys, barnacle geese, farm minks, blue tits and great tits, bighorn sheep, dumpling squid, pumpkinseed sunfish, zebra finches, spotted hyenas, even spiders and water striders, to name but a few. They have identified hotheads and tiptoers, schmoozers and loners, divas, dullards and fearless explorers, and they have learned that animals, like us, often cling to the same personality for the bulk of their lives. The daredevil chicken of today is the one out crossing the road tomorrow. …

Alison M. Bell of the University of Illinois at Urbana, who studies personality in stickleback fish, said: “We’re not being cute and anecdotal, we’re looking at consistent differences in behavior that we can test and measure.”

…“There are low information processors who don’t attend much to their environment and bulldoze through life,” said David Sloan Wilson of the State University of New York at Binghamton. “Then there are the sensitive ones who are always taking things in, which can be good because information is valuable, but it can also be overwhelming.”

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