Discussion on ‘Comparative personality research: Methodological approaches’ by Jana Uher


Abstract

The Behavioural Repertoire Approach in Comparative Personality Research: Inconsistencies Between Theory and Practice

CLAUDIO CARERE1AND DARIO MAESTRIPIERI2

1Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

2Department of Comparative Human Development, The University of Chicago, IL, USA

claudio.carere@iss.it

The use of the behavioural repertoire approach in comparative personality research involves the compilation of an ethogram. However, what behaviours should be included in the ethogram and whether they should be grouped into categories is unclear. To ensure that the behaviours belong to the natural repertoire of the species, certain assumptions regarding their underlying mechanisms are necessary. The selection of behaviours from which personality traits can be derived should take into account the notion that individuals with different personalities may seek out different stimuli and actively shape their own environment. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Climbing Out of Our Minds to Understand Personality

WENDY JOHNSON1,2

1Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, UK

2Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, USA

wendy.johnson@ed.ac.uk

Uher (this issue) proposed that we expand understanding of human personality and its biological, temperamental and evolutionary origins by cataloging behavioural repertoires of humans and nonhuman animals. The method is difficult to implement. It relies on the ability to distinguish behaviours showing interspecies or intercultural differences but not intraspecies or intracultural differences from those showing individual differences both within and across species or cultures. Nevertheless, it may be an important way to transcend anthropomorphism and cultural biases that may limit current understanding of social and temperamental transactions involved in personality development. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Extending the Personality Triad to Nonhuman Samples

CHRISTOPHER S. NAVE, RYNE A. SHERMAN AND DAVID C. FUNDER

Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, CA, USA

christopher.nave@email.ucr.edu

The present essay explores some implications of the target paper's taxonomy of approaches to identify trait dimensions in differing species for understanding behavioural and situational properties in humans. We agree with the behavioural repertoire approach advocated by the target paper, and observe that to understand how an individual organism will behave in a novel situation one must know something about the individual's personality and something about the psychological properties of the situation. Behaviour, personality and situations form the Personality Triad (Funder, 2006). Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Putting Ethology (Back) into Human Personality Psychology

DANIEL NETTLE

Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Newcastle University, UK

daniel.nettle@ncl.ac.uk

Uher's target paper shows clearly that the best approaches to personality in nonhuman species are grounded in the ethological tradition of careful observation of spontaneous behaviour. This commentary explores implications for human personality psychology, in which spontaneous behaviour has been neglected at the expense of self-report questionnaires. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

A Quest for Universals in Comparative Personality Research: What Mad Pursuit

ANU REALO AND JÜRI ALLIK

The Estonian Centre of Behavioural and Health Sciences, University of Tartu, Estonia

anu.realo@ut.ee

The proposed bottom-up approach for comparative personality assessment by Uher (this issue) is discussed, with particular attention to its roots in cross-cultural psychology. As it has proven very difficult to identify universal dimensions or invariable behavioural indicators that might apply to all members of our species, Homo sapiens, it is argued that one should be cautious concerning the ability of cross-cultural psychology to serve as a foundation on which the framework of comparative personality research will be built. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

The Next Step: Towards Personality Development in Animals?

MARCEL A. G. VAN AKEN

Utrecht University, The Netherlands

m.a.g.vanaken@uu.nl

Uher's (this issue) paper on methodological approaches to comparative personality research provides an interesting starting point to think about other aspects of personality research for which comparative thinking could be useful. In this commentary, the focus for such other aspects is on personality development. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Animal Personality, Behaviours or Traits: What Are We Measuring?

KEES VAN OERS

Department of Animal Population Biology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Heteren, The Netherlands

k.vanoers@nioo.knaw.nl

With the development of a new bottom-up methodology, the author aims at providing us with a tool for comparative personality research. This tool will indeed help us to identify differences between related species. However, to understand how differences within species are maintained and differences between species have evolved, we need to identify selection pressures on personality traits empirically. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Species of Nonhuman Personality Assessment

ALEXANDER WEISS1AND MARK JAMES ADAMS2

1Department of Psychology, The University of Edinburgh, UK

2Institute of Evolutionary Biology, The University of Edinburgh, UK

alex.weiss@ed.ac.uk

The target paper sets out an ambitious approach to animal personality research. This approach uses bottom-up measures and behavioural repertoires. This method holds promise for understanding personality trait expression in a given species; however, it has limited applications for comparing personality between species because it does not specify a measurement of interspecific similarity or difference and does not consider phylogenetic relationships between organisms. Our research led us to develop a modified top-down trait approach which makes comparing species feasible, is sensitive to species-level differences and is consistent with evolutionary thinking. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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