For many years, humans have speculated whether or not their pets and other animals throughout the world have personalities. Now that we know they do, more research is being done to discover information regarding the areas of social and biological bases of their personalities (Gosling and John 69). One of the major difficulties in performing this research is that it is a fairly new topic with little data available. This has resulted in the researchers in this study choosing 100 possibly relevant reports from a group of reliable reports that were collected (Gosling and John 69). Reports with sample sizes greater than 20 animals that included a wide range of personality trait analysis were selected (Gosling and John 69).
It has been questioned whether or not animals have different dimensions on this chart that humans do not possess. For example, Dominance is not in humans but it has been shown to be common in animals. There are many species of animals in which there are some who have a higher dominance than others, resulting in their ability to regulate the behavior in others for their favor. Because of this, Activity and Dominance were included in this review of 12 species from 19 studies; for all 12 species, the dimensions that spread the most between them were E (Extraversion vs. Introversion), N (Neuroticism vs. Emotional Stability), and A (Agreeableness vs. Antagonism) (Gosling and John 70).
Previous studies have demonstrated that there are three human FFM dimensions that show generality across species, which are E, N, and A (Gosling and John 70). An example of the way these are grouped in the elements of each FFM would be that fearfulness, emotional reactivity, excitability, and low nerve stability are the factors included in N (Gosling and John 70). It can also be demonstrated that there are sex differences in these areas, as female humans are higher on N, and male hyenas are higher on N, with social organization being the factor that plays the role for this reverse in the sex of personalities (Gosling and John 74). There are some traits that are specific to particular animals, such as fear, energy, and curiosity. The FFM helps display which species have what traits, even though every single animal/subject in the group might not possess it.
Two of the main components of the Openness dimension in the FFM, the curiosity-exploration and playfulness, were detected in 7 of the 12 species (Gosling and John 70). This helps to demonstrate that animals can be considered similar to children in some aspects, as children often have the desire to play, and are curious about their new environments and humans explore the world around them as they grow up. This could also be observed in humans with mental health problems, and other issues that affect their mental capabilities.
The Conscientiousness dimension seems to be more mentally advanced, as there is a separate section in this area held by only humans and chimpanzees; cats and dogs only have C factors that are combined with O factors (Gosling and John 71). This can suggest that the more intelligent an animal is, the more diverse each individual’s personality will be because of the higher number of options for the mixture of all of the types of factors of the dimensions that are available to them, except Dominance and Activity in humans.
This study helped to bring together many others performed in the past to improve our understanding of the personalities of nonhuman animals, but there is still much work that needs to be done. It has been stated that although the ratings used were appropriate, there are others who believe that there may be problems with observer ratings. However, many studies have shown that there is not a problem with this, and if more research is performed in the future, this can help validate this.
Gosling, Samuel, and Oliver John. “Personality Dimensions in Nonhuman Animals: A Cross-
Species Review.” Current Directions in Psychological Science (1999): 69-75. Web. 7 Jul.