According to a study published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, and reported on by The Guardian, dolphins have developed similar personality traits to humans, despite the obvious differences in environment.
Within the study, staff at eight separate facilities around the world were asked to assess the personality traits of dolphins under their care. A total of 134 bottlenose dolphins were assessed throughout the facilities, which were based in countries such as Mexico, France, America, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. Interestingly, several traits appeared to align, not just among the dolphins, but also with humans - most notably, curiosity and sociability.
Dr Blake Morton, a psychology lecturer at the University of Hull and the lead author of the study, said “We reasoned that if factors such as intelligence and gregariousness contribute to personality, then dolphins should have similar personality traits to primates.”
The last common ancestor between primates and dolphins existed some 95 million years ago, suggesting that these human-like personality traits have developed completely independent of one another. As a result, this study has helped researchers understand how such similarities can occur in vastly different environments.
Human personality is frequently defined by five traits - openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. These traits are found throughout human society, regardless of immediate environment. Previous studies have researched the extent to which these traits appear in primates, but this is the first to consider other intelligent animals that inhabit a vastly different environment.
Morton added “Scientists still do not fully understand why our behaviour comes down to those five traits, so one way of doing that is to compare ourselves to other animals – what we share in common and why.”
But although these personality traits are certainly similar, the study stops short of suggesting they are identical. Moreton said, “I don’t want people to misinterpret that and say humans and dolphins have the same personality traits – they don’t. It’s just that some of them are similar.”