Personality Is the Result of Nurture, Not Nature, Suggests Study On Birds
June 5, 2013 -- Personality is not inherited from birth parents says new
research on zebra finches.
External factors are likely to play a bigger part in developing the
personality of an individual than the genes it inherits from its parents,
suggests the study.
Researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Hamburg
investigated how personality is transferred between generations. They found that
foster parents have a greater influence on the personalities of fostered
offspring than the genes inherited from birth parents.
Dr Nick Royle from Biosciences at the University of Exeter said: "This is one of
the first experiments to show that behaviour can be non-genetically transmitted
from parents to offspring. Our study shows that in zebra finches, personality
traits can be transmitted from one generation to another through behaviour not
The research, published in the journal Biology Letters, measured personality by
placing the zebra finches in a new environment and counting the number of
features they visited. Some were shy, staying mainly in one place while others
explored widely demonstrating a more outgoing personality. Male and female birds
were then paired up and allowed to breed. Each clutch of eggs was fostered by
another pair just prior to hatching. Offspring personality was measured once
they were adults. Offspring size was also measured and was found to be primarily
genetically inherited and not significantly influenced by foster parent size.