Fish become less bold and sociable when in a couple, say Bristol researchers


Research conducted by Bristol University's School of Biological Sciences has found that fish change their personalities when coupled up with another.

The piece observed behavioural change in fish by measuring boldness, sociability and leadership. It tested the fish for boldness when they were on their own and when paired up.

Researchers found that more sociable fish in couples are more likely to conform to their partner's behaviour, becoming less sociable, taking fewer risks and making fewer bold decisions than if they were not coupled up.

The research observes "When splitting the data between the 50% most sociable and 50% less sociable fish, boldness was more strongly associated with leadership in less rather than more sociable individuals.

"This is consistent with more sociable fish conforming to their partner’s behaviour due to their greater social tendency. One axis of personality variation (sociability) can thus modulate the relationship between others (boldness and leadership), with potential implications for selection on personality variation in social animals".

Dr Christos Ioannou, one of the authors of the piece, said "The study shows that risk- taking when alone may not predict riskiness when in a group for the more social individuals. Instead they are more likely to conform to what others are doing".

Featured image: Unsplash / Yang Miao

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Cameron Scheijde

Former Editor | Co-Editor-in-Chief 2018-19 | Online Comment Editor, 2017-18