Tuesday, March 01, 2005

why do they call it PERSONality?

so i was doing my usual morning reading of the new york times to find out what you naked apes are messing up today and i came across this story which is about scientists studying animal personalities. it seems like whenever you get bored of studying each other, you study animals, but only to find out more about each other.

not surprisingly, you are studying birds since dogs would be far too personality packed and would make you realize how boring you really are. here's a sneak peak:

It may come as a surprise that their subjects have feathers. The scientists, based at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, are investigating personalities of wild birds.

Until recently, most experts in personality would have considered such a study as nothing but foolish anthropomorphism. "It's been looked at with suspicion and contempt," said Dr. Samuel Gosling, a psychologist at the University of Texas.

But scientists have found that in many species, individual animals behave in consistently different ways. They argue that these differences meet the scientific definition of personality.
If they are right, then human personality has deep evolutionary roots. "It's a matter of degree, not of differences," said Dr. Piet Drent of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology.

seems to me the anthropomorphism is a tricky problem. if you assume that only naked apes have personality (your language says so much about you), then it seems like you are imposing your understanding onto us non-human animals in assuming we are completely different. on the other hand, imposing human categories of personality onto us you're assimilating us into your world. gosh, you may have an intractable problem there, naked apes.


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