Abstract Social context has been shown to encourage, or to delay object exploration and learning. This ambiguity might be due to factors such as social relationships and personality of the individuals involved. Here, we investigated in ravens ( Corvus corax) individuals’ consistency in response to novel objects over development and across contexts: alone versus social. In the social setting we focussed on the effects of social relationships on social facilitation during the approach to novel objects. We tested 11 hand-raised ravens with novel objects individually at three and six months of age and in dyadic combinations at six months of age. Individuals were consistent over development and contexts in their response to different novel objects. Birds joined siblings faster to approach novel objects than non-siblings. They also spent more time sitting close to siblings than to non-siblings. In male–male dyads but not in female–female dyads, subordinates approached the novel objects significantly faster than dominant birds. In contrast, dominant males were the first to approach the novel objects in mixed-sex combinations. Hence, the effect of social context seems to depend on the social relationships towards the companions and on the combination of the sexes.