Nurture 'determines personality'
Personality is the result of nurture and not nature, according to a new study.
Zebra finches observed by a team of researchers at the universities of Exeter and Hamburg in Germany showed foster parents had a greater influence on the personalities of offspring than genes inherited from birth parents.
The findings of the study, published in the journal Biology Letters, measured the personality of the birds by placing them in a new environment and counting the number of features they visited.
Shy birds were those that were judged to have stayed mainly in one place while those with a more outgoing personality explored widely.
The birds were then paired and allowed to breed.
Each clutch of eggs was fostered by another pair of birds just before they hatched and the personality of more than 150 offspring was measured once they had reached adulthood.
The study found that the size of the birds was inherited from parents but that foster parents had more influence on personality than birth parents.
Dr Nick Royle, of the University of Exeter, one of the senior authors of the study, said: "This is one of the first experiments to show that behaviour can be non-genetically transmitted from parents to offspring.
"Our study shows that in zebra finches, personality traits can be transmitted from one generation to another through behaviour, not just genetics."
He added: "It might well be that personality is imprinted or learned from parents in zebra finches."