Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thought for the Day

A book I am reading is Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin. It is about decoding animal behavior and is written by a woman with autism who also has training as an animal scientist. It has many interesting ideas. One of them is that when animals are bred exclusively for specific physical attributes, their emotional and behavioral characteristics change, too. For example, chicken farmers noticed that both white and brown chickens laid the same number of eggs, but white chickens need less feed. People like to eat brown eggs, so the farmers began to cross white and brown chickens to get birds that laid lots of brown eggs without needing as much feed. The problem is that as the brown crossbred chickens began to have more white feathers they also became more nervous. Brown chickens are calm and happy while white chickens are very anxious and agitated.
She gives many examples of how when farmers breed animals to make a desirable physical trait prominent, the animals' behavior and personalities changed in unexpected ways, too. "...we could probably learn a lot about the biology of emotions if we studied the unitented behaiorial changes that have come out of these selective breeding programs," she says.
To me this is an interesting thought because it makes me wonder if people with different physical characteristics will have different personality tendencies as well. For example, is a heavy-set person more likely to have a laid-back personality than a tiny skinny person?
Anyway, the fact that (in animals at least) changing the physical influences the emotional lends credence to one of my philosophies of life: everything is connected!


jenniferf said...

Fabulous and very interesting post!

I am all for the life is all connected theory, I have always thought this.

Intersting to see this from a case study of Chickens!

I am definitely the small tiny high strung type. So is Camille. we cannot sit still, we always have to be doing or talking or both at the same time!!

~Michelle~ said...

I've heard about this book and wanted to check it out, sounds fascinating!