Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The development of collective personality: the ontogenetic drivers of behavioral variation across groups

By Sarah E Bengston and Jennifer M Jandt


For the past decade, the study of personality has become a topic on the frontier of behavioral ecology. However, most studies have focused on exploring inter-individual behavioral variation in solitary animals, and few account for the role that social interactions may have on the development of an individual’s personality. Moreover, a social group may exhibit collective personality: an emergent behavioral phenotype displayed at the group-level, which is not necessarily the sum or average of individual personalities within that group. The social environment, in many cases, can determine group success, which then influences the relative success of all the individuals in that group. In addition, group-level personality may itself evolve, subject to the same selection pressures as individual-level behavioral variation, when the group is a unit under selection. Therefore, we reason that understanding how collective personalities emerge and change over time will be imperative to understanding individual- and group-level behavioral evolution.Personality is considered to be fixed over an individual’s lifetime. However, behavior may shift throughout development, particularly during adolescence. Therefore, juvenile behavior should not be compared with adult behavior when assessing personality. Similarly, as conditions within a group and/or the local environment can shift, group behavior may similarly fluctuate as it matures. We discuss potential within-group factors, such as group initiation, group maturation, genetic make-up of the group, and the internal social environment, and external factors, such as well as how local environment may play a role in generating group-level personalities. There are a variety of studies that explore group development or quantify group personality, but few that integrate both processes. Therefore, we conclude by discussing potential ways to evaluate development of collective personality, and propose several focal areas for future research

Topics: collective behavior, social insects, social groups, Within-group variation, group growth, Evolution, QH359-425, Ecology, QH540-549.5
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2014
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fevo.2014.00081
OAI identifier:
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • (external link)
  • (external link)
  • (external link)
  • Suggested articles

    To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.