Tigers have personality traits similar to human extroverts and introverts, researchers say

  • Tigers have personality traits similar to extroversion and introversion in humans, researchers have found.
  • The traits are described as “majesty” and “steadiness.” 
  • Tigers that score higher on “majesty” eat more, have higher group status and mate more often.

New research has identified two distinct personality groups among Siberian tigers – “majesty” and “steadiness,” which loosely correlate to traits of introversion and extroversion as seen in humans.

“If I were to choose which of these human dimensions resemble our tiger dimensions most, I would probably compare majesty to extraversion and steadiness to the opposite of neuroticism,” Abdel Abdellaoui, joint first author of the research from the University of Amsterdam, told The Guardian.

Tigers that score higher on “majesty” are healthier, eat more live prey, have higher group status, and mate more often, according to the research published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Rosalind Arden, joint-first author of the research from the London School of Economics, said it shows tigers “do tend to have some dispositions, just as in humans you get people who are very extrovert or very introvert.”

The findings came after Chinese researchers compiled a list of about 70 words to describe tigers’ temperaments and created a tiger personality questionnaire for feeders and vets that worked with 248 Siberian tigers – the largest tiger subspecies – in two wildlife sanctuaries in northeast China.

Each tiger was rated on average by more than three people, and researchers found that the words fit into two clusters, which they described as “majesty” and “steadiness.” 

Tigers that scored for “majesty” were highly rated on words such as dignified, confident, and fierce and placed low on terms like withdrawn oterms feeble. 

“Steadiness” in tigers was associated with high ratings for words like friendly, gentle, and loving but ranked low for words such as aggressive or cruel.

Abdellaoui told The Guardian that the words were all initially Chinese, and some of their meanings might be harder to translate.

The researchers also noted that all of the tigers studied were semi-captive and living in fenced-in swaths of forests or snowy grasslands in China, and that results could be different for tigers living in the wild.

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