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Links between personality traits and problem-solving performance in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

Cite this dataset

Barrett, Lisa P. et al. (2022). Links between personality traits and problem-solving performance in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) [Dataset]. Dryad.


Consistent individual differences in behaviour across time or contexts (i.e., personality types) have been found in many species and have implications for fitness. Likewise, individual variation in cognitive abilities has been shown to impact fitness. Cognition and personality are complex, multidimensional traits. However, previous work has generally examined the connection between a single personality trait and a single cognitive ability, yielding equivocal results. Links between personality and cognitive ability suggest that behavioural traits coevolved and highlight their nuanced connections. Here we examined individuals’ performance on multiple personality tests and repeated problem-solving tests (each measuring innovative performance). We assessed behavioural traits (dominance, boldness, activity, risk-taking, aggressiveness, and obstinacy) in 41 captive zebra finches. Birds’ scores for boldness and obstinacy were consistent over two years. We also examined whether personality correlated with problem-solving performance on repeated tests. Our results indicate that neophobia, dominance, and obstinacy were related to successful solving, and less dominant, more obstinate birds solved the tasks quicker on average. Our results indicate the importance of examining multiple measures over a long period. Future work that identifies links between personality and innovation in non-model organisms may  elucidate the coevolution of these two forms of individual differences.


Animal Behavior Society

NIGMS Wyoming INBRE , Award: P20GM103432

National Science Foundation, Award: DGE-1747504