Tag Archives: Personality

Sharks have personality

16 Dec

So says a paper in The Journal of Fish Biology:

This study examined interindividual personality differences between Port Jackson sharks Heterodontus portusjacksoni utilizing a standard boldness assay. Additionally, the correlation between differences in individual boldness and stress reactivity was examined, exploring indications of individual coping styles. Heterodontus portusjacksoni demonstrated highly repeatable individual differences in boldness and stress reactivity. Individual boldness scores were highly repeatable across four trials such that individuals that were the fastest to emerge in the first trial were also the fastest to emerge in subsequent trials. Additionally, individuals that were the most reactive to a handling stressor in the first trial were also the most reactive in a second trial. The strong link between boldness and stress response commonly found in teleosts was also evident in this study, providing evidence of proactive-reactive coping styles in H. portusjacksoni. These results demonstrate the presence of individual personality differences in sharks for the first time. Understanding how personality influences variation in elasmobranch behaviour such as prey choice, habitat use and activity levels is critical to better managing these top predators which play important ecological roles in marine ecosystems.

Personality differences are not unique to humans and there is a large body of research on this topic.

Social loafing and group learning

16 Apr

A paper published in Social Behavior and Personality looks at the phenomenon of social loafing, the tendency of some individuals to reduce effort when working in groups. This research has important implications for group and cooperative learning.

Here is the abstract:

“Social loafing has been defined as a phenomenon in which people exhibit a sizable decrease in individual effort when performing in groups as compared to when they perform alone, and has been regarded as a state variable. In this study, we instead conceptualized social loafing as a habitual response, given that many people have been found to be susceptible to social loafing in group tasks. We developed the self-reported Social Loafing Tendency Questionnaire (SLTQ) to measure individual variations in social loafing. In Study 1, the reliability and validity of the SLTQ were established in a sample of college students. In Study 2, SLTQ scores significantly negatively predicted individual performance in the group task condition, but not in the individual task condition. Social loafing can also be considered a trait variable, as it was found to modulate group dynamics when it was activated in a typical situation (i.e., being in a group).”

Group learning research often fails to consider the role of individual differences, as evidenced by this paper I published in The Journal of Instructional Psychology:

“Discussions of group and cooperative learning have often ignored individual difference as potential confounding variable. It is possible that some individuals may be disadvantaged by cooperative learning. The purpose of this study was to see if there was a relationship between preference for group learning (itself an individual difference variable) and self report GPA. University students (N = 66) completed the group learning and individual learning scales of the Perceptual Learning Style Preference Questionnaire and provides GPA information. Preference for group learning was negatively correlated with GPA (Spearman’s rho = -.31). Preference for individual learning was positively correlated with GPA (Spearman’s rho = .27).”

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Vicarious Embarrassment

16 Jan

I found this paper, just published in Personality and Individual Differences, fascinating. It deals with a psychological construct called “vicarious embarrassment,” defined as “embarrassment resulting from witnessing embarrassing behaviors of strangers.”

I certainly have experience this. I notice that I often find comedies that depend upon the embarrassment of the main character unwatchable. It is interesting to see that this feeling appears to be a stable individual difference in personality.

Speaking of unwatchable, here are the ten most unwatchable MST3K films. In this case, only the filmmakers need be embarrassed.

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