Why Do People's Personalities Resemble Animals?

Humans are an unusual and highly successful species that spends a great deal of time examining its higher motives and an equal amount of time ignoring its fundamental ones. Desmond Morris

Have you ever noticed how people tend to assume animal personalities? We talk of someone being a bear of a man or someone acting like a dog. People we don't care for are weasels, sloths, or sometimes vultures.

Why is there such a strong correlation between human and animal behavior? Are these connections coincidental, or is there a more prosaic explanation? A possible clue lies in nature's need for diversity.

Chimpanzee with human qualities Life consists of an astonishing variety of animal species, each with its own distinct behavior and physical properties. This diversity appears to be an essential component of life, for without it, an ecosystem cannot successfully maintain itself.

At first glance, it would seem that nature would find the most efficient structure for an animal species and duplicate it en masse. However, an ecosystem with a single species cannot survive, and it takes a range of animal species to ensure a healthy habitat. The food chain — or, more accurately, the food web — requires the interaction of predators, prey, burrowing creatures, arboreal animals, and insects to remain stable. It is the interplay Introduction among these divergent species that gives rise to enduring and healthy populations.

In a process known as parallel evolution, unrelated animal species separated by vast distances often evolve corresponding behavioral and physical characteristics in order to take advantage of available niches. For example, isolated from the mainland for thousands of years, the marsupial Tasmanian wolf, or thylacine, evolved numerous features similar to the North American wolf. Although almost extinct from being hunted, its doglike body, coughing bark, and canine hunting behavior closely parallel that of wolf society, even though they have markedly different ancestries.

A similar process seems to have taken place in human society. Our human species dominates the earth and is essentially a microcosm of nature. The attributes that provide stability in the animal world — aggression, passivity, stealth, skittishness, and so on — serve the same function in our own society. It is no coincidence, therefore, that we mimic these animal behaviors to better survive in a complex and competitive world.

Pig smiling, being true to itself

To Thine Own Self Be True

Animals are themselves at all times. A pig always exhibits pure pig behavior and does nothing un-piglike. It has found a niche in the scheme of things and, when being a pig, is supremely happy. We humans are not always this true to our own natures. We struggle to find our niche in this multifaceted society and accept jobs or relationships ill-suited to our personalities. The resulting tensions contribute to our stress and unhappiness. The goal of this website is to identify your true animal spirit and give you a deeper insight into your authentic nature.