The World of Animals

The study of animal behavior is a cornerstone of experimental psychology, shedding light not just on why animals behave the way they do, but on the complex emotions they elicit in humans. Pets in particular have a unique therapeutic effect on humans, especially those who are socially isolated or who are coping with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.

Recent posts on Animal Behavior

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 2

By Michael Jawer on May 27, 2017 in Feeling Too Much
When elephants encounter their dead, they become quiet and tense.They also become agitated at the imminent death of a fellow. These behaviors are suggestive of mourning and grief.

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 1

By Michael Jawer on May 27, 2017 in Feeling Too Much
While it would seem to be the end of sensitivity, death actually conjures up an amazing range of accounts that are highly relevant to sensitivity, in humans and many other animals.

A Grieving Gorilla: A Picture That's Worth Entire Courses

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 27, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A photo of a sad orphaned gorilla and a comforting human raises numerous questions about what other animals think and feel and the emotions shared in human-animal relationships.

Can You Understand the Different Types of Dog Growls?

Not all dog growls are equivalent. Particular sound components determine how we interpret any growl.

Are Dogs Self-Aware?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on May 24, 2017 in The Human Beast
The standard test of self-awareness is being able to recognize ourselves in a mirror. Although chimpanzees pass this test with flying colors, dogs flunk.
Witthaya Phonsawat/123RF

Can Dogs Help Solve Our Childhood Obesity Problem?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on May 23, 2017 in Animals and Us
What should we make of claims about the impact of dogs on obesity in children and teenagers?

Goofing Off: Psychological & Physical Benefits of Having Fun

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 19, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Playing for the hell of it, simply because it's fun, is very important to do. Nonhuman animals do it with great vigor and joy, and so too should human animals. It's good for all.
Wikimedia Commons (John O'Neill)

Survival of the Scaredest

Why are we more afraid of insects than guns? Our emotions and perceptions are evolutionary products, and we can blame genetics for our infested minds.

When Do Friends Matter Most?

By Lydia Denworth on May 18, 2017 in Brain Waves
Having friends is strongly associated with health and longevity, but scientists are only starting to ask when the effects of social relationships emerge and how long they last.

Dominance in Free-Ranging Dogs: Age and Social Tolerance

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 18, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A detailed study of five packs of unowned free-ranging mixed-breed dogs in different areas of Italy shows they form age-graded linear dominance hierarchies with little fighting.

Freedom

What does freedom really mean?

How Important Is Your Dog in Your Family and Social Life?

New data shows just how significant a part of our social and family lives our dogs have become.

Dogs Growl Honestly and Women Understand Better Than Men

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 17, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A new study shows humans can classify dog growls and women do it better than men. Dogs honestly communicate their size and emotions in serious contests but less so during play.

Even Vegans Die: Leaving a Legacy of Caring and Compassion

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 17, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A new book called "Even Vegans Die" is a valuable guide for animal advocates. It empowers people to make the best decisions regarding their own health and advocacy for animals.

Grief in Prairie Dogs: Mourning a Death in the Family

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 16, 2017 in Animal Emotions
I saw a unique interaction between an adult prairie dog and road-killed youngster. She pulled the corpse off the road, touched it lightly, and vocalized, perhaps saying good-bye.

If We Could Talk With the Prairie Dogs, Just Imagine it ...

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 14, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Renowned Northern Arizona University researcher Dr. Con Slobodchikoff argues we can talk with these linguistic rodents and learn a lot about the evolution of language from them.

The "Furry Test Tubes" of Obesity Research

Mice are the most common animals now used in obesity research.They have many advantages for scientists who work with them but are far from perfect as a model for human beings.

Seven Successful Strategies from Safari

The benefits of copycat behavior

Cat People and Dog People Do Have Different Personalities

Data shows that cat people are introverted and nonconforming but also creative, while dog people are warm, sociable and pragmatic.

Veterinary Ethics: Life & Death Decisions in the Real World

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 10, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Making decisions about animal suffering in a wide variety of venues isn't easy, and doing the "right" thing can be extremely trying. Veterinarians need to be trained in ethics.

It's Still Not Happening at the Zoo: Sharp Divisions Remain

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on May 09, 2017 in Animal Emotions
An international meeting about zoo reform brought together an eclectic group of people. Yet, the question if animals should be held captive was dismissed by some as irrelevant.

New Details Revealed About an Important Human Ancestor

Another cave of fossils and a surprising young age sheds dramatic new light on the origins of complex behaviors and humanity itself.

Why Do Animal Shelter Workers Burn Out?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on May 04, 2017 in Animals and Us
Animal shelter workers who believe they have a gift for relating to animals may be the most likely to leave.

Jaak Panksepp: Archaeologist of the Mind

By Scott G. Eberle Ph.D. on May 03, 2017 in Play in Mind
Panksepp believed that PLAY was the most complex of the positive emotions.

Calming Music Specifically Composed for Dogs

Composer and singer gnash created a musical composition to calm his stressed-out dog Daisy and it seems to work for other dogs as well.

When One Partner Wants Pets and The Other Doesn't

By Dianne Grande Ph.D. on May 01, 2017 in In It Together
Who do you love more? Me or the dog?

Why Play Is Important

Of course we enjoy having fun, but does play have important biological benefits?

Dogs Want and Need Much More Than They Usually Get From Us

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 30, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A video called Downward Dog and an essay about stress show when we say, "It's a dog's life" to suggest things are wonderful, this isn't necessarily so for numerous companion dogs.

Rats!

By Mark Derr on April 29, 2017 in Dog's Best Friend
Rats bred for tameness confound predictions of several popular theories of animal domestication.

Pissing Matches in Dogs: Territorial, Lots of Fun, or Both?

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on April 29, 2017 in Animal Emotions
We really don't know what dogs are talking about when they over-mark or counter-mark as it becomes a game of peeing to their heart's content. Surely, they can and do piss us off.