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The effects of social conformity on Gouldian finch personality

King, AJ, Williams, LJ and Mettke-Hofmann, C (2014) The effects of social conformity on Gouldian finch personality. Animal Behaviour, 99. pp. 25-31. ISSN 1095-8282

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Consistent individual differences in behaviour observed within a population are termed ‘personality’. Studies of personality typically test subjects in isolation, ignoring the potential effects of the social environment, which might restrict the expression of individual behaviour via conformity, or enhance it by facilitation. The Gouldian finch, Erythrura gouldiae, exhibits polymorphism in head colour (red or black) which is related to different personalities: black-headed birds are bolder and less aggressive than red-headed birds. As such, this species provides a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of the presence of a social partner on the expression of individual behaviour. Using two behavioural tests that reflect individual ‘boldness’, exploration of a novel object and time taken to return to feeding following a predator threat, we show that Gouldian finches adjusted their behaviour according to the personality of their partners: where a bird's partner was bolder, it became bolder; where a bird's partner was shyer, it became shyer. This social conformity effect was reduced, however, for black-headed birds paired with red-headed partners in the novel object test; in keeping with previous research findings, bolder individuals were less plastic in their responses. Since variation in personality can promote group cohesion and improve the functioning of social groups in a variety of contexts, we hypothesize that head colour could act as a cue, facilitating preferential associations with those of similar or dissimilar personalities in large mobile flocks of Gouldian finches.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 06 Biological Sciences, 07 Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences, 17 Psychology And Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Elsevier Masson
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2015 15:20
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 14:43
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/349
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