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

How Good Is a Dog's Ability to Remember People?

There are suggestions that dogs can remember and may recognize particular people even after years of separation.

Zoo Ethics and the Challenges of Compassionate Conservation

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 18, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Jenny Gray's new book called "Zoo Ethics: The Challenges of Compassionate Conservation" is an important contribution to wide-ranging debates about keeping animals in captivity.

Looking for Social Behavior?

An encounter with a species of beetles that pair bonds, communicates with their offspring through sound, and deals with infanticide threats from other pairs.

Imprinting Kids for Violence Toward Animals

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 16, 2017 in Animal Emotions
By calling on youngsters to kill animals, many New Zealanders, including educators, are using well-known psychological principles to advance their agenda. Violence begets violence.

Wild Lioness Nurses a Baby Leopard: An Intriguing Odd Couple

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 14, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Unexpected friendly encounters among wild carnivores are rare and eye-catching. Called "odd couples," we don't know why they form and it's best to keep an open mind about them.

Do Dogs and Cats Have the Same Emotional Responses?

Although both cats and dogs show basic emotions, new data suggests that cats are less likely to show complex emotions than dogs.

Why Kids With Pets Are Better Off

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on July 12, 2017 in Animals and Us
Even the researchers were surprised by results of a large new study on the impact of pets on child development.

Scapegoating Possums: Science, Psychology, and Words of War

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 11, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Killing possums by youngsters has generated local and global condemnation. The science, psychology, and hype behind New Zealand's war on wildlife are highly questionable.

How Animals Heal Us and Teach Us

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on July 11, 2017 in Feeling It
Animals and pets can bring tremendous healing benefits to children and adults. They think and feel much in the way we do. Here's why we stand to learn a lot from them..

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 10

By Michael Jawer on July 09, 2017 in Feeling Too Much
It’s possible that searing trauma – experienced by humans or other creatures similarly endowed – produces effects that are simultaneously physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Long-Term Effects of Violence Toward Animals by Youngsters

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 09, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Encouraging youngsters to kill other animals can have devastating and enduring effects. A phenomenon called "the link" should concern New Zealanders as they wage war on wildlife.

Animal Heartbreak: Each Individual's Feelings Matter to Them

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 08, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Two things people misunderstand about animals is that each individual’s feelings are important to them and "smarter" animals don't suffer more than "less intelligent" animals.

How Strong Is Children's Attachment to Their Pets?

By Zazie Todd Ph.D. on July 07, 2017 in Fellow Creatures
The friendship and caring behaviors children show toward their pet are linked to attachment to the pet.

Seabird Parents Communicate How They're Feeling via Preening

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 07, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Common Murres negotiate parental duties and coordinate efforts by preening. If one parent isn't feeling well they tell the other so they can switch duties to help their children.

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 9

By Michael Jawer on July 05, 2017 in Feeling Too Much
The deeply felt nature of people-pet relations often manifests in anomalous reports. This may reflect the way other animals apprehend feelings and their emotional bond with people.

Who Gives a Dog a Command and How It Is Given Matters

Dogs respond differently to hand signals and voice commands, and who is giving the commands also matters.

Large Study Finds Pet Owners Are Different

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on July 03, 2017 in Animals and Us
New research shows pet owners and non-pet owners differ in important ways. Does this explain the positive impact of dogs and cats on human health?

Youngsters Encouraged to Kill Possum Joeys in New Zealand

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on July 02, 2017 in Animal Emotions
New Zealand schools need formal courses in humane education rather encouraging killing animals for money. Some want to make possum hunts mandatory so kids learn to respect them.

Dogs previously sentenced to death get new leases on life

By Cathy Scott on July 01, 2017 in Crime, She Writes
High percentages of dogs rescued by Chicago police after their owners are criminally charged are rehabilitated and find new homes, as told in the book 'A Ruff Road Home'

Beware of Narcissists Around Your Pet

Narcissists may neglect and abuse your pet. Your pet is seen by the narcissist as a distraction from putting your full attention on them. Watch for these signs.

The Wisdom of Birds

By Susan Hooper on June 29, 2017 in Detours and Tangents
For three days in June, I watched a pair of robins tend their young. Their devotion to their offspring filled me with admiration and gave me food for thought.

Like Us, They Kill and Consume. But Could They Save Us?

By Gayil Nalls Ph.D. on June 29, 2017 in Sensoria
Like humans, ants are eusocial and chemical communicators. However, we are just discovering their unique abilities that have cared for the planet for millennia.

Putting an End to Tantrums

By Seth Slater M.F.A. on June 28, 2017 in The Dolphin Divide
Understanding the lifecycle of bad behavior. Displays of distemper may be distasteful – but there are ways to quiet them for good.

If for Just One Day We Could Smell as a Dog Does

Imagine, for a moment, walking into a large gathering and instantly, with just a sniff or two, knowing intimately more about the people around you.

How We Can Become Better People Through Teamwork with Dogs

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 28, 2017 in Animal Emotions
A new book stresses the importance of humans and dogs growing together as a team and benefits for both.

What's In a Face?

Human faces exhibit more diversity than any other physical feature and more than other species. This fact tells us of the social evolution of our ancestors.

Unimagined Sensitivities, Part 8

By Michael Jawer on June 27, 2017 in Feeling Too Much
Beyond the five senses we humans know, some of the sensory capacities more prominent in other creatures may be intimately connected with health, danger, and emotion generally.

High Temperatures Raise the Risk of Aggression in Dogs

Data has shown that for humans the tendency toward aggression increases as the outside temperature goes up, and now data confirms that the same is true for dogs.

Animals Need More Freedom and Clearly Let Us Know This is So

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on June 26, 2017 in Animal Emotions
Animals have rich inner lives, but their treatment doesn't reflect this. In an interview about, and excerpt from, The Animals' Agenda, Jessica Pierce and I discuss why this is so.

Everything in the Animal Kingdom Is in a State of Being

In contemporary world culture the philosophical concern of the mystery of both animal being and human being seems to have little credence.