July 14, 2003 in Choo-Choo

Animal Emotions

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In this week’s edition of Newsweek, there is an interesting article on animal emotions. Basically, scientist are starting to come around to the idea that animals have feelings and are quite capable of loving their human handlers. I myself never had any doubt. Here is an excerpt:

For decades, psychologists have discounted the idea that pets can love their humans back. They have argued that animals that appear to express emotions are merely reacting to hormonal rushes triggered—in cold, but typical, technical language—by “outside stimuli.” But that view is changing, thanks to a loosely knit band of researchers working in fields as far-flung as neurobiology and behavioral observation. With new evidence gleaned from studies of dogs, chimps and sundry other creatures, science is starting to catch up to what pet owners have always suspected: animals experience surges of deep-seated fear, jealousy and grief—and, most important, love. Unlike the few researchers who came before them, the scientists leading the new movement actually have solid evidence. “Five years ago my colleagues would have thought I was off my rocker,” says biologist Marc Bekoff. “But now scientists are finally starting to talk about animal emotions in public. It’s like they’re coming out of the closet.”

One Comment

  1. July 21, 2003 at 11:07 pm


    I think it is rather self centered of humans to assume we are the only ones that can express feelings like love. It is in studying animals did we first conjecture and then hypothesize that human behaviour isn’t just dicated by environment but also by heredity. Why should emotions be any different? We evolved from lower mammals in the first place.
    I personally never doubted that my former dogs and current dogs have real emotions. I think it is more pure, unbridled by logic, though.
    In the case of dogs, a lower mammal, why then would we have not gotten along so well over the past 100,000 years? We are compatible.
    Horses are smarter than dogs, and humans have a symbiotic relationship with them to.
    Ironically, we lack such symbiosis with our cousins, monkeys and sometimes our own brethren, humans.
    I think all mammals have emotions. The higher up you go though, the more complex.

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