Gathering information about the environment, such as the location and quality of food, is crucial for an animal's survival, particularly in a changing environment. An animal can collect ‘personal information’ by interacting with the environment itself, or it can collect ‘social information’ by observing the behaviour of others. The use of these two types of information varies across different situations and between individuals. Personality is a concept that captures consistent interindividual differences in behaviour and could be one of the factors driving interindividual variation in information use. We tested this by conducting behavioural experiments based on a colour association task in captive great tits, Parus major, originating from lines bidirectionally selected for high and low exploratory behaviour. We quantified personal information use by measuring to what extent a bird relied on previously rewarded options instead of novel options. Social information use was measured by recording how birds chose according to social information provided by video playbacks of a conspecific. Here, we demonstrate that variation in the use of both personal and social information is indeed personality related. In their decision making, slow explorers relied more on prior knowledge, from both personal and social origins, whereas fast explorers tended to ignore the available information and chose more randomly. The differences between the personality types imply different costs or constraints in acquiring and/or applying the two types of information, possibly due to variation in, for example, cognitive styles. In conclusion, we demonstrate that personality types have different strategies to cope with environmental uncertainty.
Bibliographical note6699, AnE; Data Archiving: archived at DataverseNL
- sampling behaviour
- social information
- personal information