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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Brief Report: Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) may Demonstrate


Pioneering studies of animal personality appeared in the 1970s (e.g., Adamec, 1975; Buirski, Plutchik, & Kellerman, 1978; Stevenson-Hinde & Zunz, 1978). These studies proposed personality differences and examined behavioral tendencies that would be predicative of those personality traits. These studies began a surge of interest in consistent individual characteristics among individuals of various species, and during the past few years, research has begun to focus on animal personality more seriously. This line of research has resulted in a number of studies revealing individual differences in personality traits in such diverse species as primates, marine mammals, insects, fish, invertebrates, and birds (Gosling, 2001). Animal personality is defined as an individual animal’s unique and stable patterns of behavior (Gosling, 2001). Based on this definition, there are often two main goals of animal personality research: 1) determine if individuals within a species exhibit distinctive patterns of behavior and 2) determine if these patterns are consistent and stable over time and in a variety of contexts.

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