nyt

The Thoughtful Animal

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Quandaries such as those involving stealing a drug to save a spouse’s life or whether or not to have an abortion have historically dominated the study of the development of moral thinking. The predominant research programs in psychology today use dilemmas in which one choice is deontologically correct (it is wrong to rotate a lever…

At least one dog can be found in forty percent of US households, and forty percent of those owners allow their dogs to sleep on their beds. To put this in perspective, in a family with five children, two of them can be expected to become dog owners, and one of them will probably allow…

Origins of Mind 101

If I had to describe the mission, the point, the raison d’etre of the entire field of psychology in just one sentence, I would say: Psychology aims to determine the relative extents to which biology and experience determine cognition and behavior.” And, as you might expect, there are widely differing schools of thought. Nativists emphasize…

Figure 1: A mother hyena with her cubs. Early developmental experiences can have significant implications for the growth, behavior, survival, and reproductive success of an individual. In many species, one of the most important factors that affects an individual’s early development is the maternal environment. However, mothers not only provide an environment for their offspring,…

Predator-prey interactions are often viewed as evolutionary arms races; while predators improve their hunting behaviors and their ability to sneak up on their prey, the prey improve upon their abilities to detect and escape from their predators. The problem, of course, is that there is a trade-off between maintaining vigilance – the attention necessary to…

Earlier this week I wrote about the developmental and evolutionary origins of large number representation. A series of studies in human infants, monkeys, rats, and fish demonstrated that animals and humans spontaneously represent large (>4), abstract, approximate numerosities. Animals, human infants, and human adults, show the same ratio signatures (based on Weber’s Law). Adult tamarins…

There’s also a shortage of clean water. Friend of the blog Melissa Rowley is working to fix that. She writes: When I see photographs of children in developing countries, I ponder what my life would have been like had I not been adopted. My being here, here and now, and not roaming the streets of…

If there is one book that every human should read, it is The Invisible Gorilla, by Chris Chabris and Dan Simons. I suppose that’s a pretty bold statement to make. Let me explain. As a student of psychology, and as someone who studies and writes about the mind, I am overwhelmed with the general perception…

It’s been a pretty long stressful week around here, and not just because of Pepsipocalypse and the resulting fallout. But, well, I’m back, and I have an awesome paper to tell you about. When I saw it I just KNEW it had to be blogged. Mythbuster Adam Savage sets the yawning in motion in Mythbusters…

Bonobo Week continues! I’m donating whatever proceeds I receive from my blogging shenanigans for the entire month of June to help the bonobos at Lola Ya Bonobo. Imagine that you’re wandering in the desert and you come across two magic lamps. One lamp grants three wishes. It’s your standard sort of magic lamp with a…