Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Donald Sacco

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Lauren Highfill

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Richard S. Mohn

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 4

Stanley Kuczaj

Committee Member 4 Department



Social structures are critical to the success of many species and have repercussions on health, well-being, and adaptation, yet little is known about the factors which shape these structures aside from ecology and life history strategies. Dyadic bonds are the basis of all social structures; however, mechanisms for formations of specific bonds or patterns in which individuals form which types of bonds have yet to be demonstrated. There is a variety of evidence indicating personality may be a factor in shaping bonds, but this relationship has not been explored with respect to bond components and is yet to be demonstrated in dolphins. This study utilizes a captive population in a naturalistic environment to test for correlation between similarity within the dyad along each personality factor and the strength of the dyad’s bond characteristics. Personality was assessed using a Five Factor Model questionnaire. Dyadic bond strength and characteristic qualities were determined through an exploratory factor analysis to group behaviors recorded via underwater opportunistic focal-follow video. Discovered bond components differed from previous studies and were termed affiliative support, sociosexual, and conflict play. Individuals who differed in Extraversion and Neuroticism and were similar in Conscientiousness displayed greater levels of bonding. This study expands our understanding of the formation of bonds between individuals and the evolution of social structure. Furthermore, it better equips us for making informed environmental policy decisions and improving captive animal care.