21 December 2017
Psychologists have long studied chimps and other animals with two principal, related aims: to find out the capabilities of the animal mind, and to discover what makes us truly unique, if anything.
This is a challenging field. As any pet owner knows, it’s tempting to project a human interpretation onto animal behaviour. Researchers, especially when they’ve spent many years studying the same animal, can fall victim to this very bias (you’ll see a theme of this field is the powerful, close bonds frequently formed between psychologist and animal).
At the same time, though, there is also a temptation to overestimate our human uniqueness. Which emotions and capabilities are exclusively human? Tool use, perspective taking and deceit were once contenders, but no more, and the list is getting shorter all the time.
This Digest feature post is a celebration of the contribution that animals have made to psychology, including eight that we’ve come to know on first-name terms.
Read more on our Research Digest blog.