Pain expression is linked to personality in horses

Ijichi, C. ORCID: 0000-0003-1271-8813, Collins, L.M. and Elwood, R.W., 2014. Pain expression is linked to personality in horses. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 152, pp. 38-43. ISSN 0168-1591

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Tissue damage may result in pain, inducing protective behaviour such as lameness. Because we cannot directly measure an animal’s subjective experience, pain research and veterinary assessment rely on these behavioural indicators when quantifying pain. This assumes that pain expression is proportional to damage but this has not been tested in animals and ignores the possible effects of personality and coping style. First, we assessed whether lameness accurately predicted the severity of tissue damage, or whether there is variance in how stoical individuals are. An experienced equine veterinarian scored horses for lameness and then the severity of tissue damage using either x-ray or ultrasound during the course of normal diagnostics in a clinical setting. Contrary to assumptions, we found no relation between scores for lameness and severity (p=0.28). Consequently, “Stoicism” was calculated as severity score minus lameness score. Subsequently, we tested hypotheses founded on previous work concerning how personality would be expected to link with Stoicism and pain behaviour. Personality was quantified using a validated questionnaire, completed by owners. Owners also gave their subjective opinion on how tolerant the horse was to pain using a 1-5 likert scale. This is the first paper to assess the relationships between pain behaviour and personality in animals. We found that Neuroticism is negatively related to “Stoicism” (p=0.04) whereas Extroversion is positively related to levels of lameness (p=0.03), which may mean that pain in more easily identified in highly extrovert individuals. Future work to clarify these findings and their major implications for accurate assessment of damage and pain in animals are discussed.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Creators: Ijichi, C., Collins, L.M. and Elwood, R.W.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: March 2014
Volume: 152
ISSN: 0168-1591
S0168159113002967Publisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 10 Oct 2018 11:22
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2018 11:05

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