Emotion in Animals, Biology tutorial


There is no scientific consent on emotion in animals, that is, what emotions some species of animals, comprising humans, feel. The debate mainly concerns mainly birds and mammals; however emotions have as well been postulated for other vertebrates and even for a few invertebrates. Animal lovers, scientists, philosophers and others, who interact by animals, have recommended answers however the core question has confirmed difficult to answer as animals can't speak of their experience. Society identifies animals can feel pain as is explained through the criminalization of animal cruelty. The animal expressions of apparent pleasure are vague as to whether this is emotion, or simply innate responses, possibly for approval or other hard-wired cues. The vagueness is a source of controversy as there is no certainty that views, if any, reflect realism. In current years, research has become accessible which expands former understandings of animal language, cognition and tool use, and even sexuality. Emotions occur in the mammalian brain or the limbic system that human beings share in common by other mammals and also numerous other species.         


As humans have had conflicting views of animal emotion, the scientific examination of animal emotion has led to small information beyond recognition which animals encompass the capacity for pain and fear, and such responses as are required for survival. Historically, proceeding to the rise of sciences like ethology, interpretation of animal behavior tended to favor a type of minimalism termed as behaviorism, in this context the rejection to assign to an animal a capability beyond the least demanding that would describe a behavior; anything more than this was seen as unnecessary anthropomorphism.

Various views on emotion in animals:

1) The cautious phrasing of Beth Dixon's 2001 paper on animal emotion demonstrates this point of view:

Current work in the region of ethics and animals recommends that it is philosophically legitimate to assign emotions to non-human animals. Moreover, it is at times argued that emotionality is a morally applicable psychological state shared by humans and non-humans. What is missing from the philosophical literature that makes reference to the emotions in non-human animals is a try to clarify and defend several specific account of the nature of emotion, and the role which emotions play in a characterization of the human nature.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson expresses a similar view:

As the study of emotion is a respectable field, those who work in it are generally academic psychologists who confine their studies to human emotions. The standard reference work, The Oxford Companion to Animal Behavior, recommends animal behaviorists that 'One is well advised to study the behavior, instead of trying to get at any underlying emotion'.

There is substantial uncertainty and difficulty associated to the interpretation and ambiguity of emotion: an animal might make some movements and sounds and exhibit some brain and chemical signals when its body is damaged in a specific manner. However does this signify an animal feels - is aware of - pain as we are, or does it just mean it is programmed to act a certain manner by certain stimuli? Alike questions can be asked of any activity an animal (comprising a human) might undertake, in principle. Most of the scientists regard all emotion and cognition (in animals and humans) as having a purely mechanistic basis.

Illustrations of emotion in animal:


Primates and in specific great apes are candidates for highly developed capabilities for understanding and theories of mind. Great apes contain highly complex social systems. Young apes and their mothers contain very strong bonds of attachment. Often if a baby chimpanzee or gorilla dies, the mother will carry the body around for some days. Jane Goodall has explained chimpanzees as exhibiting mournful behavior.


A study in the year 2007 by the University of Guelph Scientists in Canada proposes that fish might have their own separate personalities. The study examined a group of trout which were visually the same. The study concluded that various fish in the same group exhibited different personality characteristics or traits. Some of the fish were more willing to take risks in unknown waters than others if taken from their environment and proposed to a dark tube. A few fish were more social than others while some fish favored being alone.


The emotions of cats have as well been studied scientifically. It has been illustrated that cats can learn to manipulate their owners via vocalizations which are similar to the cries of human babies. Several cats learn to add a purr to the cry that makes it less harmonious [clarification required] to humans and thus harder to ignore. Individual cats learn to make such cries via operant conditioning; when a specific cry draws out a positive response from a human, the cat is more probable to use that cry in the future. 


Research recommends that canines can experience negative emotions in a similar way to people, comprising the equivalent of some chronic and acute psychological conditions. The classic experiment for this was Martin Seligman's foundational experiments and theory of learned helplessness at the University of Pennsylvania in the year 1965, as an extension of his interest in depression: A further sequence of experiments exhibited that (similar to humans) under conditions of long term intense psychological stress, around 1/3 of dogs don't develop learned helplessness or long term depression. [Citation required] Rather these animals in some way managed to determine a manner to handle the unpleasant condition despite of their past experience. The respective feature or characteristic in humans has been found to correlate highly by an explanatory style and optimistic attitude and lower levels of emotion dog which had earlier been repeatedly conditioned to relate a sound by electric shocks didn't try to escape the electric shocks after the warning was presented, even although all the dog would have had to do is jump over a low divider in ten seconds, more than adequate time to respond. The dog didn't even try to evade the 'aversive stimulus'; it had formerly 'learned' that nothing it did mattered. A follow-up experiment comprised three dogs affixed in harnesses, comprising one that received shocks of similar intensity and duration to the others; however the lever which would or else have allowed the dog a degree of control was left disconnected and did not do anything. The first two dogs rapidly 29 recovered from the experience; however the third dog suffered chronic symptoms of clinical depression as an outcome of this perceived helplessness.

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