The goal of the Horback lab is to investigate whether personality traits influence how an animal copes with environmental and social stress, as well as how the animal expresses its internal state, in order to enhance animal-based and species-specific measurements of welfare.
Knowledge of personality traits may allow animal caretakers to gauge social compatibility, customize environmental enrichment, and identify individuals more susceptible or resilient to stress.
Future research questions include:
1. Do certain personality traits correlate to persistent positive or negative affective states?
2. How do housing conditions and management practices influence the development and expression of personality traits in domestic farm animals?
3. How does the evaluation of emotions in animals (e.g., approach/ avoidance behavior; vocalizations; HPA and SAM activity) vary based on personality trait?
4. What is the relationship between breed selection/genetic modification of domestic farm animals and the heritability of personality traits?