Personalities, Temperaments & Behavioral Syndromes, OH MY!


With Guest Chatter Jim Ha, Ph.D., CAAB

The webinar is completed.  See bottom of the page for recorded Replays.

All of us who share our lives with a pet or other animal, trains them, or cares for them are interested in their personalities.  In recent years, there have been a number of research studies of dog and cat personality. Just as in people, personality can be defined as consistent patterns of behavior in an individual across different times and situations.

People are interested in the behavioral consistencies of animals for a number of reasons:

  • to help them choose the best animals for particular jobs such as becoming a service animals,
  • to determine which animals should be bred and which should not,
  • and to determine if the animal is at risk for certain behavior problems, to name just a few.

In just the last dozen years or so, animal behaviorists conducting basic research have become interested in individual differences in patterns of behavior for a wide variety of animals from honeybees to chimpanzees.  Researchers sometimes use the term “personality” but also talk about temperament and behavioral syndromes. Often their interests are different from pet owners and pet professionals, and instead center on how animals adapt to their environments and how behavioral consistencies have evolved.

So what can pet owners and pet professionals learn from these new studies of  “personality” in non-human species?  What has recent research on pet personality revealed about dogs and cats?

Join us with animal behavior researcher and fellow CAAB, Professor Jim Ha to Chat about the new knowledge of personality, temperament and behavioral syndromes and what it means for all of us. We think you’ll find all of this very interesting as Dr. Ha helps us to understand this very exciting and hot research area in animal behavior.

Dr. Ha is Research Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle where he teaches and conducts research on the social behavior and cognition of a variety of animal species.  Dr. Ha also has an active animal behavior consulting practice, Adaptive Animals LLC, in the Seattle area. Read his bio to learn more.

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Here are references and resources we discussed in the Chat along with their internet links.

References and Resources from the CAABChat on “Personalities, Temperament and Behavioral Syndromes, OH MY!”
Jones, A.C.  & Gosling, S.D. 2005. Temperament and personality in dogs (Canis familiaris): A review and evaluation of past research. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 95 (2005) 1–53.

Fratkin JL, Sinn DL, Patall EA, Gosling SD. 2013. Personality Consistency in Dogs: A Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE 8(1): e54907. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054907

Sussman, A. & Ha, J.C. 2011. Developmental and Cross-Situational Stability in Infant Pigtailed Macaque Temperament Developmental Psychology, Vol. 47, 781–791.

Reale, D., Reader, S.M., Sol, D., McDougall, P.T. & Dingemanse, N.J. 2007. Integrating animal temperament within ecology and evolution.  Biological Review, 82, 291–318.

Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science