Personality variation is eroded by simple social behaviours in collective foragers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The movement of groups can be heavily influenced by ‘leader’ individuals who differ from the others in some way. A major source of differences between individuals is the repeatability and consistency of their behaviour, commonly considered as their ‘personality’, which can influence both position within a group as well as the tendency to lead. However, links between personality and behaviour may also depend upon the immediate social environment of the individual; individuals who behave consistently in one way when alone may not express the same behaviour socially, when they may be conforming with the behaviour of others. Experimental evidence shows that personality differences can be eroded in social situations, but there is currently a lack of theory to identify the conditions where we would expect personality to be suppressed. Here, we develop a simple individual-based framework considering a small group of individuals with differing tendencies to perform risky behaviours when travelling away from a safe home site towards a foraging site, and compare the group behaviours when the individuals follow differing rules for aggregation behaviour determining how much attention they pay to the actions of their fellow group-members. We find that if individuals pay attention to the other members of the group, the group will tend to remain at the safe site for longer, but then travel faster towards the foraging site. This demonstrates that simple social behaviours can result in the repression of consistent inter-individual differences in behaviour, giving the first theoretical consideration of the social mechanisms behind personality suppression.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010908
Number of pages22
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
SAR was supported by the University of Bristol Returning Carers’ Scheme, CCI was supported by a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Independent Research Fellowship (NE/K009370/1), and both authors were supported by a NERC standard grant (NE/P012639/1). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2023 Rands, Ioannou. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • foraging
  • animal sociality
  • personality
  • collective animal behavior
  • simulation and modeling
  • predation
  • time measurement
  • collective human behavior


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