Personality affects learning and trade-offs between private and social information in guppies, poecilia reticulata

Larissa Trompf, Culum Brown*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


The acquisition of information such as the location and quality of food, mates or shelter is a key survival requirement for animals. Individuals can acquire information through personal experience (private information) or through observing and interacting with others (social information). Environmental spatial and temporal heterogeneity can mean that sometimes social information conflicts with private knowledge. We tested how personality affected the importance placed on public versus private information in wild female guppies when these two information sources came into conflict. We found that boldness and sociality affected decisions to use conflicting social and private information. Bolder females used social information to avoid competition and/or potential patch depletion, whereas highly social individuals preferred the presence of conspecifics over rich foraging opportunities. There was no evidence of a speed-accuracy trade-off in a spatial associative learning task; rather, bold female guppies learned both more quickly and more accurately than shy females. We found no evidence of a behavioural syndrome between boldness and sociality which is consistent with previous studies on this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


  • Learning
  • Personality
  • Poeciliid
  • Public information
  • Social learning


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