Kristina Horback

Kristina Horback

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Animal Science


Kristina Horback, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science, focuses on the psychological welfare of animals. She completed her Ph.D. in experimental psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, before joining the UC Davis faculty in 2016.  

Research interests

Animal welfare, animal cognition, comparative psychology, applied animal behavior, domestic farm animals, animal personality traits, animal stress  

Brief overview:

I study how personality traits develop within animals, how these traits are related to biological fitness, and whether they impact an animal’s psychological welfare, such as ability to cope with stress. I am working to develop and implement psychological tests to identify personality traits among captive animals. Understanding animal personality traits could help farmers and other caretakers gauge social compatibility, customize environmental settings, and better assess animal welfare.

I also investigate the relationship among animals’ personality traits, emotional states, and ability to process information using cognitive-bias testing. My goal is to better understand the ways different animals navigate space, perceive time, and process stored information, which could inform how we analyze animal welfare. 

Current projects:

  • Determining species-specific psychological tests which reveal consistent personality traits among animals who live in groups 
  • Investigating the relationship between personality traits and psychological welfare in captive animals 
  • Examining the nature-nurture influences of personality development within an individual and among populations of animals