Sunday, January 22, 2006

That Octopus Is Clearly a Capricorn

Via Lindsay of Majikthise and David Velleman of Left2Right, I came across this article by Charles Siebert on animal personalities in the New York Times magazine. David focuses on the "duh" factor of the article, writing:
Long around paragraph 30, however, the author, Charles Siewart [sic], finally admits that the findings he reports have a "prodigious 'duh factor'". What scientists have found is that some individual octopus or spiders are more aggressive than others; some are more cautious than others; some are more sociable than others; and so on. Anyone who has owned more than one cat, hamster, or goldfish knows that.

Nor has anyone ever thought that in displaying behavioral traits like aggressiveness or caution, non-human animals are poaching on human territory. If having a personality is just a matter of being passive or aggressive, rash or cautious, sociable or shy, then personality is hardly "that one aspect of the self we have long thought to be exclusively and quintessentially ours".
Of course, the scientists studying animal personality traits knew that animals exhibit personality differences. This is what led them to study them in the first place. The idea is that the study of animal personalities might provide some insight into human personalities.

Lindsay focused on the discussion of octopus personalities, because she's apparently having a bit of an ethical crisis over eating the poor mollusks. She quotes some interesting descriptions of octopus personalities from the article. I liked these in particular:
One particularly temperamental G.P.O. [Giant Pacific Octopus] so disliked having his tank cleaned, he would keep grabbing the cleaning tools, trying to pull them into the tank, his skin going a bright red. Another took to regularly soaking one of the aquarium's female night biologists with the water funnel octopus normally use to propel themselves, because he didn't like it when she shined her flashlight into his tank. Yet another G.P.O. of the Leisure Suit Larry mold once tried to pull into his tank a BBC videographer who got her hand a bit too close, wrapping his tentacles up and down her arm as fast as she could unravel them. When she finally broke free, the octopus turned a bright red and doused her with repeated jets of water.
I can't help but also think of the shark-eating giant octopus. That one clearly ranked high on the aggressiveness scale.

Anyway, I discussed this research earlier, focusing on a study of hyenas, in a post last March. In that post, you'll find a link to a review of the research on personality in several species, including primates, octopus and even guppies (but not David's goldfish). Enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Is not this blog spozed to be about "Cognitive Science"?
I haven't seen much posts here about this recently, unless you count socio-political chatter as "Cognitive Science" (that would rather be the "Grandparents" variety or even the "pub at the corner" variety)

Cheryl said...

The idea is that the study of animal personalities might provide some insight into human personalities. but we still found they both are so different!
Learn how to speak French and learn speak Chinese

Anonymous said...

gucci replica handbags
men gucci shoes
Gucci men sneakers
Gucci men moccasins
gucci women sneakers
gucci women boots
Gucci men boots
Gucci shop
Gucci bags
Gucci shoes
wholesale gucci shoes
cheap Gucci handbags
Gucci ON sale
Gucci Belts
Gucci small accessories
Gucci hats & scarves
Gucci wallets
Gucci Handbags
Women Gucci shoes
Men Gucci shoes
discount gucci shoes
cheap Gucci shoes

rong said...

your article is very good, but do you like the
pink ghd
armani sunglasses
gucci sunglasses outlet
discount abercrombie and fitch clothes
abercrombie fitch outlet
abercrombie & fitch clothing
ed hardy wholesale
cheap ed hardy wholesale
discount ed hardy wholesale
wholesale ed hardy
ed hardy outlet
paul smith shirt
paul smith
paul smith 2010
cheap paul smith
discount paul smith
paul smith shoes
Burberry scarf
Burberry outlet
cheap Burberry handbags
Burberry totes
newest Burberry
Moncler jackets
Moncler coats
Moncler Vest
discount Moncler outlet
moncler polo t shirt
cheap ugg boots
discount ugg boots
ugg boots
classic ugg boots
ugg classic tall boots
AirMax BW
AirMax Huarache
AirMax LTD
AirMax Skyline
AirMax TN

rong said...

how do you think the AirMax Zength
AirMax 09
AirMax 180
AirMax 2003
AirMax 2006
AirMax 2009
AirMax 2010
AirMax 360
AirMax 87
AirMax 90
AirMax 91
AirMax 92
AirMax 93
AirMax 95
coach outlet
coach handbag
coach handbags
coach bag
coach bags
discount Oaklay sunglasses
cheap Ray Ban sunglasses
ugg boots
ugg boots discount
cheap ugg boots
classic ugg boots
ugg classic tall boots

rong said...

spyder jackets
spyder ski wear
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Kansas City Chiefs
Miami Dolphins
Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints
herve leger
herve leger bandage dress
moncler jackets
moncler coats
moncler vest
moncler outlet
moncler Polo t shirt
ugg boots
polo boots
polo shoes