Animal personality traits such as boldness, activity and aggressiveness have been described for many animal species. However, why some individuals are consistently bolder or more active than others, for example, is currently obscure. Given that life-history tradeoffs are common and known to promote inter-individual differences in behavior, we suggest that consistent individual differences in animal personality traits can be favored when those traits contribute to consistent individual differences in productivity (growth and/or fecundity). A survey of empirical studies indicates that boldness, activity and/or aggressiveness are positively related to food intake rates, productivity and other life-history traits in a wide range of taxa. Our conceptual framework sets the stage for a closer look at relationships between personality traits and life-history traits in animals.