Research Shows That Animals and Humans Experience the Same Emotions

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The link between humans and animals may be closer than previously thought, according to research by Dr Filippo Aureli, reader in Animal Behaviour and co-director of LJMU's Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology. Dr Aureli, (pictured opposite) presented his research at this year's BA Festival of Science in Dublin, has found that our furry relatives may share many of the same emotions that humans experience in everyday life. He explained: ''My research has shown that emotion is a valid topic for scientific investigation in animals and helps us to understand how animals behave with great flexibility. For example self directed behaviours, such as scratch-grooming, obviously have a hygiene function, but they also reflect motivational ambivalence or frustration.''

He continued: ''Recent research has shown that there is an increase in such behaviour in situations of uncertainty, social tension, or impending danger. The same can be shown in humans who may bite their nails or pull at their hair in times of anxiety.''

Studying animals is helping researchers, such as Dr Aureli, to understand more about the phenomena of emotions. Though animals cannot express their feelings linguistically, researchers have found that like humans, their emotions can be expressed through actions.

Individual primates behave in different ways depending on the circumstances they find themselves in and the group members they interact with. For example, individuals who spend more time in proximity to one another will generally be friendlier and less aggressive to each other - showing that the animals form close bonds with some group members. Dr Aureli explained: ''Monkeys and apes behave as if they take into account the quality of social relationships, for example whether they are friends or non-friends. Emotion can mediate the assessment of one's own relationships and guide animals' decisions on how to interact with different partners under different...
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