The World of Animals

Pets are among life's greatest joys; they can also be our greatest teachers.  The study of animal behavior is a cornerstone of experimental psychology, shedding light on complex human emotions. Pets also have a unique therapaeutic hold over humans, especially people who are socially isolated or who are coping with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

Recent posts on Animal Behavior

Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 29, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Dr. Nathan Emery's new book "Bird Brain: An Exploration of Avian Intelligence" is a gold mine of information and surprises about the latest research on bird smarts.

Commandeering Cuteness for Commercialism

By Douglas Van Praet on August 27, 2016 in Unconscious Branding
There is a good reason why cute and cuddly baby animals are tugging at your heart and pulling on your purse strings.

Road Rage: A Second "Free-Range" Intervention

What is real power? It is acting like the biggest dog on the road.

Psychological and Environmental Aspects of Who We Eat

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 26, 2016 in Animal Emotions
"Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming" highlights the incredible damage agricultural practices do to our planet and psyches and offers viable solutions.

Survival, Aggression—and Compassion

What do you expect from those around you—competition or compassion? Here's a surprising example.

Defenders of Wildlife Supports Killing Wolves: Livestock Win

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 24, 2016 in Animal Emotions
This shocking decision presents many challenges to conservation psychologists, anthrozoologists, and those interested in compassionate conservation.

Farm Animal Suffering Leaves a Bad Taste In Your Mouth

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on August 24, 2016 in Animals and Us
In a series of recent experiments, researchers found that whether we think animals were raised humanely or on a factory farm affects the way their meat tastes.

Frigatebirds Sleep While Flying: Somnambulism Gone Wild

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 24, 2016 in Animal Emotions
No friggin' kidding, frigatebirds can fly for weeks on end by power napping in ten-second bursts with only one side of their brain.

Autistics as Undomesticated Humans

To the extent that humans are a self-domesticated species, autistics can be seen as less domesticated than others.

Do Dogs Prefer Food or Praise?

A new study looks at whether dogs prefer food rewards more than social interaction with their owners by monitoring what goes on inside the dogs brain.

Kids, Chimps, and Cooperation

By Art Markman Ph.D. on August 23, 2016 in Ulterior Motives
People are pretty good at sharing when they are cooperating. When does that ability develop? Is it uniquely human?

Chimpanzees Choose to Cooperate Rather Than to Compete

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 23, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Comparative research continues to show humans aren't unique in displaying cooperative behavior. Nonhuman primates, other mammals, along with birds and fishes, show cooperation.

Some Dogs Prefer Praise and a Belly Rub Over Treats

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 22, 2016 in Animal Emotions
New neuroimaging and behavioral research show some dogs prefer praise to treats as a reward. Saying "good dog" and rubbing a belly are great ideas for training/teaching dogs.

Why the Loss of a Pet Hurts So Much

Losing a pet can be just as devastating as losing a human member of the family. Validating that grief in yourself and others is a step toward coping with the loss.

Are Animals Conscious?

Are animals conscious? The implications are important.

Valuing Dogs More Than War Victims: Bridging the Empathy Gap

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 21, 2016 in Animal Emotions
In a recent essay Nicholas Kristof writes, "If only, I thought, we valued kids in Aleppo as much as we did our terriers." Why do we offer more empathy to dogs than to some humans?

Sea of Sadness

By G.A. Bradshaw PhD, PhD on August 20, 2016 in Bear in Mind
For elephants in India, epic social changes are bringing hardships and hope.
Count Tolstoy, wife, son and dog. From Wikimedia commons. Public domain

Should Shelters Bother Assessing Their Dogs?

A recent paper argues that testing shelter dogs for aggression is a waste of time. In a world where people are bitten by dogs every day, can less assessment really be the solution?

Chickens Can Be Therapy Animals

By Temma Ehrenfeld on August 19, 2016 in Open Gently
The chicken as pet.

What Kinds Of People Believe Animals Go To Heaven?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on August 19, 2016 in Animals and Us
Two recent studies have found many people agree that animals from dogs to snakes and insects experience life after death.

The New Science of Animal Psychiatry

Nicolas Dodman takes us into a world of dogs with autism and Tourette’s syndrome, horses with OCD, and cats who attack their owners for no apparent reason.

Killer Whales Trained as Performers Suffer Psychologically

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 18, 2016 in Animal Emotions
A new essay called "Orca Behavior and Subsequent Aggression Associated with Oceanarium Confinement" shows how being trained to perform results in heightened aggression.

Is Donald Trump an Alpha Male?

Do we need to be more precise in applying terms such as “personality disorder” and “alpha male” to political candidates?

Pets on the Couch: Do Animals Need Freud and Pfizer?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 17, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Animal psychiatry is a rapidly growing field and Dr. Nicholas Dodman's new book called Pets on the Couch is a must read for all who choose to share their home with another animal.

Hugs and Warm Touches Benefit Health and Well-Being

By Allen R McConnell Ph.D. on August 16, 2016 in The Social Self
Need a hug? Research shows positive interpersonal touching fights illness, increases happiness and well-being, and supports social connectedness with others.

Doomsday for Dogs? Are Declines in Fertility Due to Food?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 12, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Males of five purebred dogs are showing declines in sperm motility. Are dogs "canaries in the coal mine" indicating serious environmental effects on food and reproduction?

The Emotional Lives of Chimeras: Challenges to Anthrozoology

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 12, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Plans to lift the ban on animal-human chimera research by the National Institutes of Health is a bad idea that raises numerous ethical issues that challenge anthrozoology.

The 100 Most Pet-Friendly Cities in the United States

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 09, 2016 in Animal Emotions
A recent comprehensive study is a must read for all who choose to share their home with another animal. I'm sure you'll be as surprised as I was about some of the results.

Dog People Are Popular While Cat People Are Single

Data based on 160,000 Facebook users shows interesting differences in lifestyle, personality and personal preferences between dog people and cat people.

Labeling Non-Native Animals: The Psychology of Name Calling

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 08, 2016 in Animal Emotions
The ways we refer to other animals influence how we treat them. Recent assaults on non-natives, often called invasive, can have dire consequences for the animals and ecosystems.