In episode 217 I asked you to be frank with yourself: Does your animal really think? It’s easy to believe they do, but if you’re going to study this issue scientifically you have to eliminate our human tendency to anthropomorphize – to want to believe that animal actions are motivated by internal states.
Here’s a roundup of a few articles I found in my PsycExplorer app which show exactly what psychologists are doing to find out what exactly is going on (if anything…) in the minds of dogs, cats, rats, chickens and yes fruit flies. Are they really thinking in there? Well, maybe so. These examples certainly convinced me, although it might all depend on what you mean by “thinking” and “feeling”.We also find out how we react to those sudden thoughts that jump into our minds – what do they mean? Are thoughts that jump into our mind more significant than thoughts that we actively think about?
Articles Mentioned In This Episode
- How Does a Dog’s Brain Respond to the Smell of a Familiar Human?
- Carnegie Mellon Researchers Find Spontaneous Thoughts Are Perceived To Reveal Meaningful Self-Insight
- Study: Stop Being So Cynical, You Could Give Yourself Dementia
- Chickens and other birds are smarter than you think
- Fruit flies ‘think’ before they act
- Rats shown to feel regret over bad decisions
- The phenomenon that we humans like animals that have big eyes is referred to as Supernormal Stimuli and was discussed in episode Episode 126: SuperNormal Stimuli: Is This Why We’re Overweight?
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently commented that chickens have the misfortune of lacking big eyes. The phenomenon to which Kirstof refers is the instinctively positive reaction humans have to animals with child-like appearances, such as disproportionately large eyes and heads. Think of your favorite animals and those that evoke the most empathy from you; they probably have big eyes that lead you to feel they are cute or even beautiful. – “Chickens and other birds are smarter than you think”
…scientists have confirmed that chickens are capable of long-term memory, self-control, and the ability to think about the future. – “Chickens and other Birds Are Smarter Than You Think”
Dr Mark Walton, from the University of Oxford, who reviewed the research, said the findings were significant as they showed a high level of cognitive ability in rats… – “Rats shown to feel regret…”