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Highly sociable Australian birds show us the effects of social conformity

Posted December 8, 2014

Scientists from LJMU have published research that provides a unique opportunity to investigate how personality can be affected by social context.

Dr Leah Williams and Dr Claudia Mettke-Hofmann of the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, published work in the journal Animal Behaviour which reveals that the Australian Gouldian finch birds adjust their behaviour according to the personality of their partners.

When tested alone, a Gouldian finch’s personality correlates with its head colour. This finding together with its highly social nature makes Gouldian finches ideally suited to investigate the effect not only of other individuals but also of individual identity (head colour) on personality expression.

In a collaborative project with Dr Andrew King from the University of Swansea, Dr Leah Williams and Dr Claudia Mettke-Hofmann, built on their previous research which determined how Gouldian finches (Erythrura gouldiae), have different personalities according to the colour of their heads. They previously found that red-headed finches were more aggressive, while black-headed birds were bolder and took more risks

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