Nature

Dolphins more human-like than we thought as personality traits revealed

Our friends in the sea are sociable and open, but not agreeable!

Move over, dogs. You might not be a human’s best friend after all.

Turns out dolphins are even more closely connected to us than we first thought.

The majestic mammals are not only sociable like people, but it has also been discovered that they share similar personality traits too.

But how do we know this without the power of sharing a language with them?

[Credit: Freddy Jimenez / Unsplash]

In psychology circles, they have what is known as ‘The Big Five’, a scale to measure and compare characteristics of the world’s most intelligent animals.

These are openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, extraversion, and agreeableness.

While it was previously known that human beings, chimpanzees and rats are members of The Big Five club, it seems dolphins got a VIP invite too.

In particular, the new study shone a light on the high levels of extraversion that dolphins experience which is indicative of their sociability and wanting to know where the party is at.

[Credit: Hanson Lu / Unsplash]

They also discovered high levels of openness, which suggests creativity or curiosity, and low levels of agreeableness, which points to a lack of prioritising others’ happiness over their own.

Speaking about the findings, lead author of the study, Dr Blake Morton, found it hard to hide his delight at working with dolphins instead of people.

Dr Morton said: “Dolphins were a great animal for this kind of study because, like primates, dolphins are intelligent and social.

“We reasoned that if factors such as intelligence and gregariousness contribute to personality, then dolphins should have similar personality traits to primates.”

[Credit: Torsten Dederich / Unsplash]

Dr Morton continued: “Dolphins, like many primates, have brains that are considerably larger than what their bodies require for basic bodily functions; this excess of brain matter essentially powers their ability to be intelligent, and intelligent species are often very curious.

“We’ve known for some time that dolphins are similar to us in other respects – for instance, you can just watch dolphins on television and see they’re very obviously smart and social.”

If only we could keep pet dolphins.

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