Personality and Problem Solving in Zebra Finches

Marsh, Jessica L.
Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are often used in studies of social learning, personality, and communication. However, few studies have addressed the potential influence of an individual's personality on their cognitive abilities, or how personality combinations can affect the success of pair-bonded mates. Our research aims to investigate these questions. We began by assessing personality in zebra finches. To evaluate an individual's personality, we measured five different behavioral traits. These traits include: dominance, neophobia, aggressiveness, fearfulness, and obstinacy. Personality traits were tested individually and across multiple trials. Next, individuals were given a series of three problem-solving tasks with a food reward. This was used to measure an individual's problem-solving ability. We then asked whether an individual's personality predicted its performance on the problem-solving tasks. Future work will aim to address whether pairs of mates with similar personalities perform better than pairs of mates with dissimilar personalities on two coordinated skill-pooling maze tasks.
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