Kristina M. Horback

Research

The goal of the Horback lab is to investigate whether personality traits influence how an animal copes with stress as well as how the animal expresses its internal state, such as pain or fear, in order to enhance animal-based measurements of welfare. Knowledge of individual differences in personality may allow animal caretakers to gauge social compatibility, customize environmental enrichment, and identify individuals more susceptible or resilient to environment/social stress. We utilize cognitive bias testing (attentional and judgment bias) to infer an animal’s affective (emotional) state. Future research questions include: 1. Do certain personality traits correlate to persistent positive or negative affective states? 2. How do housing conditions and management practices influence the development and expression of personality traits in domestic farm animals? 3. How does the evaluation of emotions in animals (e.g., approach/ avoidance behavior; vocalizations; HPA and SAM activity) vary based on personality trait? 4. What is the relationship between breed selection of domestic farm animals and the heritability of personality traits?