Isn’t it interesting how some people’s personalities are extremely constant while others change based on the situation?
This phenomenon is so common that scientists have found it across several animal species, including spiders and birds.
Some spider personalities are more constant than others, and social niches are thought to affect personality consistencies and shifts.
Social niches are made up of the social aspects of a species’ environmental relationship. In the case of humans, this means that your friends, family and coworkers influence you just as much as other environmental factors.
Adapting To One’s Environment
When you hang out with comedic friends, they may be more likely to bring out your funny side.
Similarly, male cowbirds have been found to change their personalities based on their social surroundings, while females maintain constant personalities by hanging out only with females with similar personalities, forming these social niches.
Niches like these are formed because they provide predictability, which is generally comforting. This helps to predictably navigate food and predation, which is also the same reason ecological niches are formed.
And just like ecological niches and species, social niches and personalities are mutually influential.
Sources and Further Reading
- Laskowski, K. L., & Pruitt, J. N. (2014). Evidence of social niche construction: persistent and repeated social interactions generate stronger personalities in a social spider. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281 (1783).
- Kohn, G. M., et al. (2011). Social niches and sex assortment: uncovering the developmental ecology of brown-headed cowbirds, Molothrus ater. Animal Behavior. 30, 1-8.