Interplay between environmental and genetic factors in temperament/personality traits in horses (Equus caballus)

J Comp Psychol. 2004 Dec;118(4):434-46. doi: 10.1037/0735-7036.118.4.434.


The aim of the present study was to broach the question of the relative influence of different genetic and environmental factors on different temperament/personality traits of horses (Equus caballus). The researchers submitted 702 horses to standardized experimental tests and investigated 9 factors, either genetic or environmental. Genetic factors, such as sire or breed, seemed to influence more neophobic reactions, whereas environmental factors, such as the type of work, seemed to play a more dominant role in reactions to social separation or learning abilities. Additive effects were evident, showing how environmental factors may modulate behavioral traits. This study constitutes a first step toward understanding the relative weights of genetic factors and how the environment may intervene in determining individual behavioral characteristics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Horses / psychology*
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology