Episode 133: Replacing Your Doctor With a Robot?

Are you embarrassed to take your clothes off in front of your doctor? Most of us are. Well, what if your doctor was a robot? Would this make it easier or harder to remove your clothes? Before you answer – would it matter if the robot looked like a real person or if it looked like R2-D2? That’s the question we examine this week on The Psych Files.

Robots and Emotions

Why are fictional – and real – robots often built to look like us? Probably because it’s easier to relate to them. Learn more about how we develop feelings for robots on this article I found at The Week: Falling in love with a bot.


Episode 99: Animal Emotions – Does Your Pet Really Have Feelings?

Does your dog have thoughts and feelings? How about your cat? In this episode we find out what scientists have to say about how we should study this question. I also review a fascinating new study by Dr. Alexandra Horowitz of Barnard College who studied whether or not dogs who have that guilty look actually do feel guilty. We take a look at the idea of anthropomorphism and your dog in this episode of The Psych Files.

Resources on Anthropomorphism and Animal Emotions

  • The research I reviewed in this episode is entitled, "Disambiguating the “guilty look”: Salient prompts to a familiar dog behaviour" in Behavioural Processes, Volume 81, Issue 3, July 2009, Pages 447-452 by Alexandra Horowitz.
  • Here’s where you can find more information about Dr. Horowtiz and her Dog Cognition Lab can be found here.
  • Here’s a link to the article entitled "It’s an Owner’s Scolding That Makes a ‘Guilty’ Dog" that appeared in the New York Times
  • Science Daily also wrote an article reviewing Dr. Horowitz’ research on the Guilty Dog look entitled "What Really Prompts The Dog’s ‘Guilty Look‘"
  • What are Animals? Why Anthropomorphism is Still Not a Scientific Approach to Behavior, Clive D. L. Wynne, Comparative Cognition and Behavior, 2007, vol 2, pp 125-135.
  • Critical Anthropomorphism, Uncritical Anthropocentrism, and Naïve Nominalism, Gordon M. Burghardt, Comparative Cognition and Behavior, 2007, vol 2, pp 136-138.